OGDEN — The Ogden City Council has voted against a controversial proposal that sought to loosen housing density restrictions in one of the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods.
On Tuesday night, the council voted to deny two measures — one to amend the nearly 30-year-old old Lynn Community Plan that guides development around west 2nd Street, and a second, subsequent action to rezone 8 acres of property from 140 to 152 West on 2nd Street. The proposal would have allowed a local developer to build a high-density housing complex on the land.
The request for the change came from Davis County developer Shawn Strong, of Parkridge Inc. Strong owns some land on the northwest corner of Wall Avenue and 2nd Street and wants to build town houses in the area. Strong, who has been trying to purchase land west of his parcel to extend the would-be project, told the council his development would feature about 10 units per acre. The Lynn plan restricts the area to low-density, residential uses and allows only three single-family dwellings per acre.
In the mid-1800s the entire area near 2nd Street west of Wall Avenue served as a fort for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was a gathering spot for approximately 600 early settlers. Officially known as Bingham’s Fort, several of the structures and homes in the neighborhood were built by early LDS Church settlers and still stand today.
The council tabled their decision on the matter a week ago, after numerous residents from the neighborhood voiced differing opinions on the proposal.
During each of the last two council meetings, residents took passionate stances for and against the rezone. Those against the measure have consistently said they fear high density housing in the area would degrade the historical character of the neighborhood. Those for it have said the rezone would give them more flexibility to do with their land what they want — namely sell. Many of the residents who spoke in favor of the rezone have said the age of their homes has made it hard to keep up with maintenance and to sell them.
The Ogden Planning Commission had previously reviewed the proposal and by a unanimous vote, recommended the council deny the rezone request. The planning commission found that the request was inconsistent with the general character of the area and the overall goals and objectives of the city’s general plan. The council ultimately decided the same.
“This was kind of an emotional thing, I knew everybody wasn’t going to be happy,” said Councilman Rich Hyer, who represents the district that holds the Lynn neighborhood. “I think the things that are already in place and can be legally done, can benefit everyone.”
Council Vice Chair Bart Blair voted against the motion to deny the two measures and said he didn’t believe the town house project would have had that big of an impact on the neighborhood’s character and would have provided more housing options to residents of Ogden.
“I don’t want to discredit any community involvement — there is a lot of passion and pride that goes on in that community,” Blair said. “I just feel like there are fewer and fewer parcels of property to be developed ... where we can make big impacts on our community. I feel like this could have been one of them.”