Planning staff tells Salt Lake City to block Kum & Go gas station next to Sugar House Park

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Salt Lake City Planning staff have told a key commission to deny a request for a Kum & Go gas station immediately next to Sugar House Park.

Staff said the project doesn’t meet existing neighborhood plans and that it can’t mitigate negative impacts to Parleys Creek and the park and should therefore be denied.

If the Planning Commission agrees, it could set up a potential legal battle between the company and Salt Lake City.

“Although the applicant has proposed mitigation plans through development techniques and its proposed best management practices, this use is not appropriate for the location,” the staffers wrote.

An estimated one in every four underground gas storage tanks in Utah is out of compliance and poses a threat of ground contamination, according to the staff report.

“The possibility of harmful and damaging effects from a potential gas tank leak (‘release’) or contaminated surface water run-off could cause a significant detrimental impact,” they continued.

The request is noteworthy and comes at a time when the city is taking a closer look at land uses in and around the Sugar House urban core.

Business owners are hoping to put a 4,000-square-foot building and three double-sided pumping stations on the site.

The privately property is 0.83 acres and was once home to a Sizzler restaurant. The owner was attempting to sell the property, which was likely to become either housing or a type of car-oriented business given its location at the intersection of two car-centric roads.

After early attempts to bring housing to the parcel failed under community backlash, the owner decided to lease the property to the Midwestern chain Kum & Go, which is bringing other locations to Utah, as well.

Planning staff said the gas tankers that would need to refuel the underground storage tanks on the site wouldn’t be able to use 2100 South. Those tankers would have to enter from 1300 East and exit onto 2100 South, the staffers said.

Conditional uses are allowed unless applicants can’t show the Planning Commission they can mitigate negative impacts to the neighborhood.

If negative impacts can’t be mitigated, the request “shall” be denied, according to city standards.

“The applicant has not provided information that demonstrates that the reasonably anticipated potential for soil, water and air contamination created by the proposed use can be substantially mitigated,” the city said.

When the application was made, it wasn’t clear the city had any path toward blocking the gas station at the park, particularly given there’s a Chevron gas station on the other side of 1300 East and the city allowed the area to fill up with drive-thru businesses.

At the request of the Planning Commission, planners are actively studying whether to limit new drive-thrus in the neighborhood.

If the Planning Commission approves the request — which is highly unlikely — staffers recommended a long list of conditions that Kum & Go would have to follow.

In the likely event the commission denies the request, it’s not clear what the owner would do next.

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Posted by Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson grew up near Chicago and made his way West to study journalism at the University of Montana. He's been a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bend Bulletin and Salt Lake Tribune. A move from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City opened his eyes to the importance of good urban design for building strong neighborhoods. He lives on the border of the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods.