Ivins City Council decides fate of high-density townhome development

Attendees at the Ivins City Council meeting during which a proposal for a high-density residential townhome was discussed, Ivins, Utah, June 6, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Ivins City Council voted unanimously Thursday to deny the development of high-density townhomes on a 10.37-acre parcel of land.

The meeting was standing room only as members of the community attended to voice their concerns regarding a proposal to rezone the parcel from community commercial to high-density residential townhouses.

The Ivins Planning Commission had recommended that council deny the proposal.

The townhomes would be limited to four units per building with two-car garages, City Manager Dale Coulam said.

Niel Walter represented landowner America First Credit Union and the applicant Lovell Development Group. He said the owner and the applicant are well aware of the zoning of the land.

Walter said America First received nine offers for the land in the four years that the parcel was marketed as a commercial property, but all offers were made with the hope of creating residential homes, assisted living and vacation rentals.

“The interest that seems to keep arising for this property is, for the most part, this type of a multifamily use, this townhome use,” he said.

Walter said the property is surrounded by high-density residential locations and the plan to build townhomes on the land is consistent with the long-term development plan. The land would not benefit the community’s desire to create “good commercial corners” that help broaden the city’s retail tax base, he said.

The townhome project would also fit the general trend of Old Highway 91, which has a number of similar residential projects, he said.

Boyd Livingston said he lives in one of the estates near the proposed development and is one of the owners of Coldwell Banker Premier Realty in St. George. Livingston has lived in Ivins for 25 years.

There are not a lot of commercial properties left in Ivins, he said, but there seems to be no shortage of townhome developments.

The street nearest to the property – 200 East – is the main entrance into the city, and Livingston said “it is not advantageous at all for the city to put something like this in an area where everybody is going to be turning to come into the city.”

Jamie Peters said she has lived in Ivins for 26 years and chose it because it was a small community.

“Now, the growth that we have seen, in my opinion, is horrific,” she said.

Peters said the traffic is “unbelievable” and “the beauty and plainness of this beautiful God-made land is being destroyed by all of the building.” She said she lives near new townhomes, which have changed the feeling and serenity of her location.

The meeting was opened with a prayer that included asking for water, and Peters said the building of new high-density residential units would not help conserve water.

Other concerns raised include increased crime, disrupted views of the red mountains and more dogs in the area.

Members of the community were also worried about the effect more high-density housing would have on the Ivins Night Sky Initiative.

“We’re losing our night sky; we’re losing our Milky Way,” Peters said. “Light pollution is frightening when you begin going to these lectures and finding out what we are doing to this beautiful community.”

Councilwoman Miriah Elliott reminded the audience to be aware of Utah’s mandate for the city of Ivins to create more affordable housing, as it has become a concern in the community. She said the development of townhomes does not necessarily equate to affordable housing, and she agrees that the council should uphold the planning commission’s recommendation.

The next Ivins City Council meeting will be June 20 at 5:30 p.m.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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