OGDEN — A Texas-based food testing lab wants to set up shop in Ogden’s River Project Area.
And while the Planning Commission has recommended the City Council approve the company’s move-in plan and a requisite rezone, some city officials have expressed misgivings about the proposal.
A petition filed by Doug Shepherd, on behalf of Food Safety Net Services, asks the city to amend a zoning ordinance to allow the lab on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and 20th Street — a property within the city’s 60-acre, tax-incentivized River development that sits on the northern edge of downtown.
With the help of tax increment financing, the once vacant and blighted patch of land includes apartments, town homes, restaurants and retail shops. Since the River Project Area was established in 2002, businesses like Gear:30, America First Credit Union, Kneaders, Slackwater and several others have opened in the area, along with housing complexes like The Meadows at Riverbend and The View on 20th apartments.
According to council documents, the River area is zoned “Mixed Use,” which is designed to “create a pedestrian friendly environment with uses that generate and promote foot traffic.” City Planning Manager Greg Montgomery said his staff initially advised the Planning Commission to recommend a denial of the FSNS plan because a food testing lab, while having little negative impact on noise or odor, doesn’t promote significant pedestrian activity. Montgomery said planning staff’s research found most food testing labs around the country are located in industrial parks.
But the Planning Commission found that the River area section between Lincoln and Wall avenues is likely not changing in the immediate future because much of it is encumbered, with a large portion of the space taken up by the Beehive Self Storage facility. The commission found that the food lab use may be appropriate if limited to the property in question, Montgomery said, and recommended the City Council approve the plan.
Brandon Cooper, Ogden’s deputy director of Community and Economic Development, said the lab clashes with the city’s vision for the River area and with existing development already in place there. According to the River master plan, the city sought to create an “attractive urban environment” in the area, featuring high-density housing and shopping options clustered within walking distance of each other.
“There are so many options for this type of use in the city,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense to put it in a place we’ve already prescribed as being something totally different. It’s not like there isn’t another metal building available anywhere else in the city.”
Council member Rich Hyer also said he saw problems with the plan, saying it “doesn’t fit with what we’ve envisioned there.”
The City Council will vote on the matter during their Aug. 27 meeting.