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2011-02-02 20:43:50
Murray Utah - The Sky Could Be the Limit Soon

Murray may unshackle height limits downtown

The Murray Planning Commission voted recently to recommend approval of ordinances that allow builders to go as high as they want in the City Center District and require new buildings in part of the area to be at least four stories tall.

The idea is to create a cultural, entertainment and civic center. And with land in the city already 98 percent built out, planning officials thought unlimited height and density was the way to go.

The area currently has a three-story limit. The proposed ordinances, which would amend the city’s general plan and land use regulations, will go to the Murray City Council for consideration.

The city is planning a pedestrian-oriented development on the approximately 97 acres between the TRAX rail lines on the west; Center Street and Jones courts on the east; 4800 South and several properties just north of it on the north; and Little Cottonwood Creek on the south. Project plans are still in the conceptual stages.

Community development planner Chad Wilkinson told planning commissioners that the plan focuses on redeveloping downtown while retaining the area’s historic elements.

The recommended changes would:

  • Require new buildings west of State Street to have a minimum height of 40 feet or four stories, whichever is less. Buildings east of State Street would be exempt from the height requirement.
  • Limit the height of a structure that is adjacent to and within 150 feet of a residential area to 50 feet.
  • Require that buildings over 10 stories have a podium “which addresses the pedestrian nature of the street.” The podium could be no more than three stories high.
  • Mandate that sections of blank walls on nonresidential buildings cannot exceed 30 linear feet without being interrupted by a window, entry pilaster or similar element. Blank walls could not occupy more than half of a principle frontage.

A few residents of the area expressed concerns about traffic. The proposed ordinances would reduce the required number of parking spots in the City Center District based on square footage by about one-third.

“Will they be parking up and down the street?” asked Delynn Barney, noting that some commuters probably will switch from bike riding to driving their own cars when the weather is bad.

Wilkinson said there is very limited parking in the district already and someareas are not even required to have parking. He said the city would encourage construction of parking structures and that plans for bus rapid transit would cut down on traffic. “We do anticipate people will be taking advantage of mass transit,” Wilkinson said.

By Pamela Manson - The Salt Lake Tribune - First published Jan 22 2011 08:41PM

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