Sugar House residents protest taller buildings on streetcar route
City Council • Mayor Becker’s proposed zoning changes would allow for 105-foot structures; critics say the move would destroy the neighborhood.
Published: March 26, 2014 07:13AM
Updated: July 28, 2014 10:17AM
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Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo Mayor Ralph Becker is moving forward with a plan for a downtown streetcar that would act as a circulator for the central business district, connect to the Granary District near 900 South and 200 West, and could link to the University of Utah via 100 South or 200 South. The Sugar House Streetcar, which began operating Dec. 1, is shown here.

Protect us from the high density zone changes proposed by the Becker administration for areas around the Sugar House Streetcar.

That’s what about 50 people told the Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday evening at a public hearing seasoned with passionate declarations. About 90 people attended the packed hearing.

“It’s important [to turn down the proposal] to protect the stability of this single-family neighborhood,” said Sugar House resident George Chapman.

The zone changes under consideration are FB-SC (Form Based-Streetcar Core) zoning along 700 East at 2100 South that would allow 105-foot buildings, and FB-SE (Form Based-Streetcar Edge) zoning that would allow 45-foot heights along segments of Stringham, Simpson, Sugarmont and Wilmington avenues between 600 East and 1000 East. It also would impact segments of Green Street, Lake Street and 800 East.

A map of the proposed zone changes can be found at http://bit.ly/NLMBcq.

The zoning proposal seeks to take advantage of the transportation options offered by the Sugar House Streetcar — or S line — that debuted in December.

But Chapman said the proposal is absurd. “It doesn’t make sense to put in this 105-foot tall monstrosity,” he said.

Sarah Covington and her husband, Jeff, live at 2130 S. Green St., an area that would be surrounded on three sides by 105-foot structures.

“There goes my mountains. There goes my sun in the morning,” she told the council. “We’re sick about this. How will we sell our house with huge buildings across the street.”

Sugar House resident Dana McKee told the council that part of the rezone that is now open space — a 2.85-acre parcel in the 900 East block of Sugarmont Avenue — should remain open space. The parcel was tennis courts and is now being used as a community garden. The administration wants to sell it as “surplus” space.

McKee asked the council to consider an alternative zoning scheme developed by community activists that would place buffer zones between high-rise buildings and single-family neighborhoods.

Judi Short, chairwoman of the Sugar House Community Council’s land-use committee, also told the council a buffer zone is needed. She said the 45-foot high allowances in the streetcar edge zone was too high.

Short also noted that there was no mention in the administration’s plan for the greenway along the S-Line. She said it is important to provide details about the amenities that are planned for the greenway.

Many of the speakers echoed the sentiments Charles Roger Atkinson, 72, a lifelong resident of the area who said he isn’t against growth but the proposal was too big and would lead to the deterioration of the neighborhood.

Or as resident Joe Gibbs told the council: “Development like this [proposal] takes the character away from the Sugar House I know.”

The council took no action Tuesday night.

csmart@sltrib.com