It took a while, but the Morgan County Council finally amended county code for commercial and industrial districts. Following over a year of work on the planning commission level and months on the county council agenda, zoning districts were added, uses allowed in various zoning districts were specified, and levels of required review were set.
“The main purpose of the amendments is to allow for more flexibility of development types in commercial zones in the appropriate areas,” said Lance Evans, Morgan County Planning and Development Department director. “The purpose of the revisions is to provide for a streamlined process for review of conditional uses, enabling applicants to receive approval more quickly.” Evans also said the clarification will “allow for additional opportunities for more varied commercial land uses in Morgan County.”
The county council had the item on their agenda four times–Oct. 3, Nov. 7, Nov. 21 and Dec. 5—before they finally passed it Dec. 19. In that time, council members hammered out several items including accessory apartments, outdoor storage, and height regulations, as well as auto salvage yards and auto repair service.
**Changed zoning districts**
“There are new zones to address more specific needs in certain areas of the county, such as the new Mountain Green Commercial Zone and Peterson Commercial Park Zone,” Evans said. “The majority of the commercial areas are in Mountain Green, but also there are small areas Peterson, East Canyon and by Taggart’s.”
Among the zoning districts added or changed are: Business Park (BP) within the General Commercial (GC), Technical and Professional Campus (TPC), Mountain Green Commercial (MGC), and Peterson Commercial (PC).
The Business Park‘s purpose within the General Commercial District is to “provide areas for appropriate transitions between commercial uses and residential uses. Developments are intended to reduce impact adjacent properties by using landscaping, setbacks and building design.”
The Technical and Professional Campus (TPC) is meant to provide areas for the construction of research and development parks; educational facilities and campuses; trade and technical schools and colleges; and health care facilities including hospitals, clinics and labs. Evans told the county council that areas for technical and professional space are in high demand in the Mountain Green area due to its proximity to the Wasatch Front.
The Mountain Green Commercial Park is to provide areas of transition between Technical and Professional Campus Zoning and residential uses within the Mountain Green Area.
The Peterson Commercial Park is to provide areas of transition between existing residential and agricultural uses and other zoning districts.
“When drafting the ordinance, the planning commission kept specific sites and existing uses in mind to make sure they were included in any new zone that might be implemented in the area,” Evans said. “It is important to note that this ordinance only creates the zone districts. The exact properties that may be rezoned will go through another public process and is up to the county council, planning commission and property owners to decide where they will be proposed and potentially rezone specific sites in the county. Any rezone will comply with the County General Plan that was updated last April.”
**Level of application review and commercial use table**
The level of review for applications was divided into five categories: permitted, staff-level review, planning commission review, county council review or prohibited. “With these different categories in mind, the use tables were reviewed and different levels were given to each use type,” reads the staff report. “Several changes were made to the uses in the table and clarifications were made to help guide applicants and staff regarding which uses were acceptable and which were prohibited.”
The planning commission consulted the national North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to make the changes.
“There have been numerous meetings by the planning commission and county council to refine and develop zones and a commercial use table that protects the county from undesirable uses while maintaining multiple options for growth and services in the community,” Evans said. “The commercial use table added, clarified and eliminated some uses or put them into more general terms.”
**County council changes**
After changes were forwarded from the planning commission, the county council made some changes of their own. Most notable was the council’s discussion about accessory apartments.
In October, Councilman Robert Kilmer said accessory apartments above retail like those seen in Farmington Station, Gateway, City Creek and Ogden’s 25th Street—are “very appropriate” in an incorporated city, but “inappropriate” in unincorporated areas of the county.
“I don’t think Mountain Green wants accessory apartments. There are unintended consequences,” Council Chairman Ned Mecham said Nov. 7. “I have a concern putting accessory apartments in the conditional use table. I don’t want accessory apartments anywhere in this.”
However, Councilwoman Tina Cannon disagreed, saying an accessory apartment could be a much-need secondary source of income that could make a business more commercially viable. “Commercial has to have something else to survive. This gives them the ability,” Cannon said in November. However, “I do understand the concern. It would be bold for the county. This has the potential to go terribly wrong if not conditioned appropriately.”
In the end, the council voted to remove accessory apartments as a permitted use in the residential zone.
The council limited the number of stories in the light manufacturing zone to three (instead of seven) at 35 feet in height (instead of 75). They also specified no limit to the number of stories in industrial zones (instead of seven stories at 75 feet in height).
In the “other services” portion of the use table, the council entirely removed automobile repair service as an approved use in the commercial buffer, neighborhood commercial, Mountain Green commercial and Peterson commercial zones. It will remain an approved use in the commercial shopping, general commercial, highway commercial, business park, technical and professional campus, light manufacturing and industrial zones.
The council entirely removed outdoor storage as an approved use in several zones including commercial buffer, neighborhood commercial, commercial shopping, general commercial, highway commercial, business park, technical and professional campus, Mountain Green commercial, and Peterson commercial.
In the “retail trade” portion of the use table, the county council also removed auto salvage yards, or the retailing of used auto parts, as a planning commission-approved conditional use permit in the commercial shopping, general commercial and highway commercial zones. However it is a permitted use in the Mountain Green Commercial zone and a zoning administrator-approved conditional use in the light manufacturing zone.