Over the past year, we have sent many businesses packing because our zoning laws and land regulations are just way too strict. We have become “Pleasant Grove City HOA.”
Zoning laws are given special treatment over private property rights every single week in PG City.
Most of our zoning and planning regulations came to us in 2007.
At PG City Planning Commission last night (December 10, 2015) a private business owner asked for the right to build a small elderly housing complex on property he wants to purchase next door to his current business. Since that type of business is not allowed in this zone, he is asking for the zone to be amended to allow him to do what he wants. All but two on the planning commission recommend to the city council to deny his request. Only Jennifer Baptista and Dallin Nelson voted in favor of the applicant. The business owner will appear in front of city council this Tuesday night to plead his case.
The applicant owns property in American Fork where he has a current elderly housing facility and he wants to build more of the same on the lot next door. The property he wants to build on is in the PG City “Grove Commercial Sales Sub District”, which has it’s own law and regulations just like the other zones all around the city. Rules in this area, like all the others, are very strict and highly regulated. We have become a PG City HOA. The city law says nothing is allowed in this zone, except what they specifically give permission for and put in city code. Everything not on the list is against the law. A person can try to change zone law but they have to fill out an application, get the necessary paperwork, pay a fee and come before the planning commission and city council and ask for a code amendment or a special permit or waiver to allow the type of business they want to build on their own private property.
Government gives special permission to some but not all. In this same zone not to long ago, another applicant asked for special permission to put auto sales in this zone and the city approved his request and amended the text of the code.
This kind of treatment is very normal for city governments. They pick and choose who gets permission and who is denied. They can and do change the laws all the time. It’s a simple process. Why can’t city government amend these codes and give freedom of land use to the private property owner and stop putting zoning above private property rights?
In most instances, people do the right thing with their property. When they want to build a business, they are smart enough to build it well so it will draw customers to their products and services. Government should never be in this over the top land control. It should be done privately, through private HOA’s.
Over the past couple of years when the city denies applicants it’s always for these two reasons….
1. Denied because the type of business doesn’t look good. It doesn’t fit the ‘vision’ of what they city thinks is beautiful. Two current examples of this are St. John’s multi- million dollar commercial business venture that was denied last month from being able to build the building they wanted on their own private property. When they were denied, they put their venture on a permanent hold and off to another city to build something there. Another example happened last month when a current business owner in the downtown commercial area was denied the right to add used auto sales at his auto repair shop because it’s not the look the city wants in that zone. Council Benjamin Stanley is the only one voting for the private property rights in our city.
2. Denied for tax income. Meaning, certain businesses are wanted because they bring in sales tax. Those that bring in property tax only are looked more negatively. Most of the money from property tax goes to the school’s and very little to the city government. Businesses that bring in sales tax are what city government want, so they will deny because of money. An example of this is mixed housing in our city. The city took out mixed housing in many zones in our city so developers have only a few more options to build this type of housing. Most of those on the current city council have agreed to stop all new mixed housing in PG. They believe the government of PG has enough mixed housing and we need more commercial areas for sales tax income to fix all the funding problems in our city. If developers think there is a need for mixed housing and want to build more because they know they will sell and rent, why can’t they do it?
Another example is the elderly care facility I wrote about above that was denied a recommendation to amend the zone and build a place for the elderly to live. It’s not going to bring the city the funds they want, so they don’t have an incentive to amend the zone code.
Discrimination against auto sales, mixed housing developers, elderly care facilities, and boring square buildings that aren’t sexy enough, are forcing people to move to other cities and PG is loosing out on the tax income, great businesses and private property rights are a thing of the past.
Let’s tell the city government to look over the zoning codes and loosen many of the strict regulations that prevent developers and property owners from using their land as they see fit and coming to PG City.
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