Developer Agreements Almost Reality for Sandy City Council, StaffOct 04, 2016 03:19PM ● By Chris Larson
By Chris Larson | [email protected]
After months of consideration, developer agreements may become a part of the Sandy City land use code.
In the Sept. 6 city council meeting, City Attorney Rob Wall said he had developed a template agreement that could possibly serve as the first iteration of future developer agreements with the city. The council later in the meeting passed a preliminary approval of the ordinance language and sent it to the planning commission for input and approval.
“Development agreements are neither a panacea nor should be feared,” Wall said during an information session during the Sept. 6 meeting.
A developer agreement is a contract that attaches additional conditions to on a developer’s project in conjunction with a zone change by the city. Councilmember Chris McCandless, District 4, believes the use of a developer agreement in the land use code will allow for “flexibility” and greater clarity in permitted uses in a city that is, more or less, built out.
“In the life cycle of a city like Sandy, we get to a point where everything is all but built out and you get into redevelopment projects,” McCandless said. “With zoning ordinances being what they are, you can’t just fit every use in that square box.”
McCandless pointed to the rezoning kerfuffle surrounding the rezoning of the building site for the new Fratelli’s Ristorante location as a possible opportunity to both clarify expectations of the city and developer, as well as assuage residents’ fears of what could take the restaurant’s place should the restaurant fold.
Neighbors had serious concerns of rezoning the vacant lot located at 1420 East Sego Lily Drive from a special development district professional office/residential district to a community commercial district. This rezone would allow for businesses like tire services stations, a veterinary office or commercial repair center, to give some examples.
Adding a developer agreement, McCandless said, would specify additional permitted or forbidden uses for the property where an existing zone wouldn’t fit.
Wall said developer agreements are often considered legislative acts in the state of Utah. As long as the agreement is consistent with established code, the courts are very unlikely to meddle in policymaking
Wall said in the meeting and McCandless said in an interview that developer agreements are ideal only when there is a use that would appear to be desirable but doesn’t quite fit in any other zoning district. Rather than develop a new district for one area, the developer agreement would allow the city articulate special conditions during the rezoning process with the developer.
“If we can fit it into the traditional paradigm, that’s always the best way to do business,” Wall said.
McCandless said the city’s life cycle calls for additional creativity and flexibility to determine the best use of land in the city as new projects attempt to fit in with existing projects. Further, the council has put a greater emphasis in allowing more zones that permit both residential uses and commercial uses to blend together as consumers expect better integration in urban and suburban living.
“I think most of the people in the room, including the people in the residents in the immediate area, liked Fratelli’s but they didn’t like the fact that a tire service station could be in the same location,” McCandless said as an example of balancing the desires of several parties and trying to establish the best use for property.
The resolution to approve developer agreements and iron out the processes of creating them will likely be ironed out in the coming weeks. McCandless said he is happy to finally see a product after about a year of talking about it.