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Ogden City Council considering ordinance to ease nonresidential housing restrictions

By Mitch Shaw standard-Examiner - | Jun 17, 2021

OGDEN — A proposal initiated by the Ogden City administration that would allow more housing in nonresidential zones is moving through the wheels of government.

The Ogden City Council is currently mulling a proposal that would amend the city’s zoning ordinance to allow buildings in nonresidential zones that were originally built as single-family homes, but have since been converted to other uses, to once again be used as single-family dwellings.

During a Tuesday council work session, Barton Brierley, Ogden’s deputy planning manager, said at several locations in Ogden, buildings that were once homes have been converted into businesses. There are used car lots, insurance agencies, attorneys and dentist offices, and more. But according to current city ordinance, if that conversion happened in a nonresidential area, the structure is prohibited from ever being used as a home again.

Brierley said the planning department estimates there are between 50 and 100 such structures in the city now.

According to city planning documents, up until 1972, single-family homes were permitted in all areas of the city, regardless of whether the area was zoned for residential, commercial or industrial uses. But eventually zoning philosophies changed and the city decided there should be a separation to avoid potential negative land use impacts. Aside from structures that have been grandfathered in, single-family homes have not been allowed in Ogden commercial and industrial zones since the 1970s.

The proposed ordinance would allow the converted buildings that were once homes to revert back to their original, residential use, regardless of what zone they are in, so long as certain conditions to restore the residential character of the building are met.

Ogden Planning Manager Greg Montgomery said the effort is being driven by local housing demands and the fact that some of the properties in question are now being marketed as residential units, even though according to current city code, that would be an illegal use.

“This was created because of the request of … Realtors,” Montgomery said. “It seemed like a reasonable request … because of the housing concerns. They were saying, ‘Our clients, this is the most affordable thing we can find and we can’t market it to them? So that’s why we took it upon ourselves to take this approach.”

Prices and demand on homes all across Utah are seeing a significant trend upward.

According to assessed valuations for 2020 Weber County properties, median home values increased 11% last year compared to 2019. The median value is the midpoint for Weber County home values, with half worth more than that and half worth less. And according to the Utah Association of Realtors, the average price of a sold home in Weber County increased a staggering 28% from January 2020 to January 2021, jumping from about $281,000 last year to $358,000 this year.

Aside from some questions about landscaping requirements in the ordinance, the council expressed support for the idea.

“I love the proactive approach,” said Council member Angela Choberka.

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