Cedar Hills Blog

Another Review of City Code

Sat 03 May 2014 development

Doug Young, the developer who is proposing to build a senior living facility near the roundabout by Walmart, has revised his proposal to reduce the building to three stories from its original five. However, I have continued to hear concerns from residents about the size of the building and the density of the development. In light of the ongoing discussions, I would like to review our city code and development guidelines to explain why I feel this development is not in keeping with our planning documents.

Short Version

My understanding of the city code is that:

  • independent residential development (including apartments and congregate care facilities) is expressly prohibited by city code in the area of the commercial zone where this development is proposed;

  • the primary intent of the commercial zone is stores and shops, and residential use in the area being proposed is permitted only on the second floor above office and retail use of the first floor,

  • any development in the commercial area must be sensitive to surrounding residential areas, with key concerns being the size, scale, height, and density of the development; and

  • zoning for dense residential developments, such as apartments and congregate care facilities, should be explicitly mentioned if allowed in a zone, such as with the Pleasant Grove city code.

My previous post gives a broad overview of the commercial zone. Here, I will focus more narrowly on permitted uses and density.

The SC-1 Shopping Center Zone

Our zoning regulations are found in Title 10 of our City Code. This is where zones are established, along with associated regulations.

Chapter 10-3-1 establishes the zones used in the city, which includes the SC-1 Shopping Center zone. This is the zone where the development is being proposed.

Chapter 10-4E-1 lists the legislative intent of this zone, stating:

The SC-1 zone is established to provide an area in which the primary use of land is for commercial and service uses to serve the needs of the community and surrounding area and is located in the portion of the city most appropriately suited for the purpose. It is intended that development within the zone shall be characterized by a harmonious grouping of commercial stores and shops and essential ancillary uses (parking, signs, landscape features) architecturally designed and functioning as an integrated unit.

Note that the primary intent of the zone is for commercial stores and shops.

This chapter also states:

It is the specific intent that architectural design and character of operation shall, to the maximum extent possible, be compatible with that of surrounding residential environment, and review, approval and attachment of conditions upon development within the zone will be predicated upon the accomplishment of this objective.

This indicates that impacts on the surrounding residential developments are a key factor in considering development. In addition to traffic and lighting studies, I consider resident opinions to be a primary consideration when evaluating these impacts.

Chapter 10-4E-2 lists the permitted uses of the zone, which include:

Agriculture and the production of crops in the field.

Planned commercial development projects subject to the provisions of chapter 6, article A of this title.

Public utility rights of way and related utility facilities.

Note that all commercial use is intended to be a planned commercial development project, which is covered in Chapter 6, covering Large Scale Commercial Development.

Planned Commercial Development Projects

Chapter 6, Article A, contains the zoning regulations for planned commercial development projects for the SC-1 zone.

Chapter 10-6A-2 shows a table listing all the permitted uses for this zone. These are all conditional uses, meaning they may be permitted and are subject to the conditions specified in the conditional use permit issued by the city:

Conditional Uses: Buildings, structures and uses of land listed as conditional may be permitted within a planned commercial development project, subject to compliance with applicable requirements of this title and those contained within the document "Guidelines For The Design And Review Of Planned Commercial Development Projects", and after approval has been given by the designated review agency.

This also references our commercial design guidelines, and uses the term "compliance", indicating the guidelines have similar weight to city code itself.

These conditional uses include the following:

  • Assisted living, convalescence home
  • Residential, attached units

Assisted living does not apply in this case. The developer has repeatedly stated this is a congregate care facility, not an assisted living facility. In addition, Chapter 10-2-1 defines an assisted living facility as

ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY: A facility licensed by the state of Utah that provides a combination of housing and personalized healthcare to its residents and is designed to respond to the individual needs of those who require help with the activities of daily living such as meal preparation, personal grooming, housekeeping, medication, etc. Care is provided in a professionally managed group living environment in a way that promotes maximum independence for each resident.

This does not describe the proposed congregate care facility.

Regarding residential, attached units, there is a footnote for each of the sub-districts. For the Mixed Use Office sub-district, covering the church, dental offices, and the Charleston, the footnote states:

As an independent development.

This indicates that an independent, residential development may be built in this sub-district of the SC-1 zone. However, for the Mixed Use Office/Retail sub-district, covering the area by the roundabout and bordering homes on 9980 N, the footnote states:

When ancillary to a retail or office use (ancillary = subordinate, subordinate is less than 50 percent of any given structure), residential is permitted only on the second level of the structures.

Likewise, for the Neighborhood Retail sub-district, covering the area closest to 4800 West, the footnote states:

When ancillary to a retail use (ancillary = subordinate, subordinate is less than 50 percent of any given structure), residential is permitted only on the second level of the structures.

In both cases, city code explicitly does not allow residential units as an independent development. Rather, residential units are allowed when they comprise less than 50% of the structure and are located on the second level, above office or retail uses. The developer in this case has provided retail on the first floor of one of the buildings, but the rest of the buildings have residential uses on the first floor, and the primary purpose of the building is certainly residential in nature.

In addition, regarding permitted uses in a zone, Chapter 10-1-11 states:

Uses of land that are not expressly permitted within a zone are hereby declared to be expressly prohibited therein, except as may be permitted by action of the planning commission or city council, pursuant to express authority given under terms of this title. Any person who may obtain state or federal properties by purchase, lease or other arrangement must utilize such properties in accordance with the provisions of this title. Neither the planning commission, board of adjustment nor the zoning administrator shall permit a use within a zone that is not expressly permitted by the terms of this title.

Design Guidelines

The design guidelines, referenced in Chapter 10-6A-2, include several relevant statements concerning size, scale, height, and density of development in the commercial district:

Design and planning of and operation within the commercial district shall be primarily for the benefits of the residents of Cedar Hills. Considerations shall include density, diversity and design.


Land development shall be sensitive to adjacent single-family housing.

In addition, the Mixed-Use Office/Retail sub-district is specifically mentioned as intending to have lower density based on the size, scale and height of the building:

The Mixed-Use Office/Retail designation is intended to accommodate less intense uses than found in the Neighborhood Retail designation. The lower intensity may be due to size, scale and height of the structure or due to a less-intense land use.

While the developer has reduced the size of the building to three stories, its scale and size is still not in keeping with the sub-district, even if independent residential development was allowed.

Zoning for High Density Residential Uses

Typically, a city that wishes to accommodate high density housing explicitly adds zoning for this use. For perspective, the city code for Pleasant Grove contains several commercial zones with various uses.

Both the C-N Neighborhood Commercial Zone and the C-S Commercial Sales Zone do not allow residential uses. However, the CS-2 Commercial Sales-2 Zone allows the following as conditional uses:

  • Two-family dwellings

  • Big house type multiple-family dwelling (3 or 4 dwelling units)

  • Two-story multiple-family dwellings. Maximum of 8 dwelling units attached per building

  • Townhomes, 2 or 3 stories with a garage. Maximum of 6 dwelling units attached per building

  • Three-story mixed use buildings with commercial on the ground floor and residential units above. Maximum of 8 dwelling units attached per building

Likewise, the DV Downtown Village Zone allows the following permitted uses:

  • Single-family dwellings (except mobile homes)

  • Two-family dwellings

and the following conditional uses:

  • Two-family dwellings, attached to a commercial or nonresidential use

  • Multi-family dwellings (attached)

  • Multi-family dwellings (above a nonresidential use, excluding commercial/retail)

  • Apartments (low rise/garden type detached or attached, including condominiums, excluding 1143)

  • Rooming and boarding houses

  • Retirement homes

  • Residential facility for handicapped persons

  • Residential hotels (guest stays longer than 30 days)

Interestingly, Pleasant Grove also includes an overlay zone that is specially designed for senior or congregate care housing. The purpose of the SHO Senior Housing Overlay Zone is:

The senior housing overlay zone (SHO) is established to provide an area for independent senior housing developments that are in proximity to community commercial or civic centers. This overlay zone is not intended for assisted living, nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, healthcare centers, or like uses. The intent of this overlay zone is to provide adequate accommodation for senior citizens, where the lifestyle is less burdensome and more convenient for residents to perform daily activities.

The definition of senior housing is as follows:

"Independent senior housing" refers to a multi-unit housing development that is restricted to older adults, usually age fifty five (55) and over, and shall be defined as housing for the elderly as per federal housing guidelines. Included are two (2) permitted types of development:

A. Single-family retirement community with resident ownership of attached or detached single-family homes, having amenities but few or no services, and

B. Congregate housing with units that have a tenant-landlord relationship or that are individually owned, accommodating the varied housing and lifestyle needs and desires of seniors by providing some amenities and services.

The SHO zone can be used to allow senior housing in the downtown village, CS-2, C-N and the grove zone, which allows mixed housing and commercial uses.

In addition, the city code for Pleasant Grove includes density restrictions for various types of apartment or senior housing, specifying the number of units per acre that are allowed.


Based on my reading of the city code, I do not favor any independent residential development of our commercial zone, including apartments and senior housing. With the development that is planned for the area south of Lone Peak High School, which will include senior housing and apartment complexes, I do not think we need to accommodate this kind of development in Cedar Hills. Our city is fairly small, with limited commercial areas, and we should preserve these areas for commercial purposes as our code and guidelines describe. These areas will become more attractive for commercial development as additional development occurs across the street, and once the east-west connector with Highland is built.

A few areas of the code and guidelines should be clarified. I would particularly like to see a definition of allowed density for residential uses in the commercial area, which should explicitly preclude the density currently being requested. In addition, we should provide better phrasing for the footnotes regarding conditional uses, better definitions of the height restrictions and allowances, and updates to take into account the city-owned property in the area.