Upper Avenues group admits defeat after spending four years fighting against new homes

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The group of Upper Avenues residents who fought against a mid-density project that would bring a group of single-family homes with ADUs to the neighborhood announced this week that it wouldn’t take its fight to court after their four-year fight.

The acknowledgement came after a string of defeats for the informal group, which named itself “Preserve Our Avenues Zoning.” The group fought against the attempt to rezone a 3.1-acre piece of open land from one single-family zone to another.

“The Avenues community has worked together for four years asking Ivory Homes and the City to create a more reasonable development at 675 N F Street. We have lost,” the group wrote on Tuesday.

The development calls for up to 42 units on the lot that Ivory Homes bought from the LDS Church in October 2020, shortly after neighbors began an all-out affront on the proposal.

The plan calls for a mix of single-family homes and twin homes with a combination of ADUs above garages in the back. The new subdivision will be built on existing open space in the neighborhood near foothills trails.

Neighbors attempted multiple avenues to fight and delay the project before waving the white flag on Tuesday, deciding not to challenge the city’s Appeals Hearing Officer’s ruling upholding the Planning Commission vote to approve the project.

The group could have taken the issue to court but apparently decided it had already spent enough time and money opposing new housing in a neighborhood that already includes a wide mix of housing types.

A sign from opponents to a rezone that would allow for more housing sits in front of a condo building in the Upper Avenues.

Residents claimed that the new homes would lead to clogged streets in the event of an emergency like a wildfire, despite evidence showing that there was plenty of space for parked cars and emergency vehicles.

The leaders of the anti-housing group said they were seeking to preserve the suburban nature of the Avenues. They also sought other avenues to try to win the public and regulators onto their side. Still, the existing reality in the neighborhood apparently worked against the opponents.

The Avenues neighborhood south of 7th Avenue is largely mixed in housing type, with a combination of single-family craftsman homes and missing middle housing that’s for-sale and for-rent.

North of 7th Ave, the housing stock shifts toward larger single-family homes on lots with larger setbacks. But the area surrounding the future Capitol Park Cottages includes condos and other mid-density housing.

The irony became apparent when signs opposing the rezone sprouted up in the lawn of a condo building across the street from the site, which has dozens of units.

But density for density’s sake isn’t the end of the game, particularly if the new and existing residents don’t have anywhere to walk for errands. In that case, the fight against Ivory Homes should be a lesson for the city.

If this is what it takes to get a housing proposal approved in a wealthy area like the Upper Avenues, prospective buyers and housing advocates had better start working on plans for the LDS Hospital now.

Email Taylor Anderson

Read the full note below.

The Preserve our Avenues Coalition Suspends its Campaign Against Ivory Homes Development at 675 North F Street.

The Avenues community has worked together for four years asking Ivory Homes and the City to create a more reasonable development at 675 N F Street. We have lost. The lot was zoned for nine homes but applications from Ivory Homes to the City have resulted in a Planned Development that will have 21 primary residences and 21 ADU’s for a total of 42 residences. We think this is too much, but our efforts to get Ivory to pare back their development have been unsuccessful. We do think the resulting design is better than the early plans, but there are still unaddressed issues.

In retrospect, we understand that we never really stood a chance given the City’s drive for more housing and the City’s relationship with Ivory Homes. Expecting that the building zone that existed when we bought our homes and upon which we based our purchase decision would remain in force is no longer a wise approach. Everything is changing in housing.

Your support has not gone unnoticed. Our supporters helped us collect over 2100 signatures opposing the rezone. You helped fund our efforts. You wrote hundreds of letters. You showed up for the Planning Commission and City Council Meetings. You hosted yard signs. Your continued support has been overwhelming and we are so grateful to you for standing with us.

During the past few months, we appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to approve the Planned Development, but we lost the appeal. We have been advised that further appeals to the district court would be very costly. We are reluctant to give up, but the cost of litigation is beyond the means of ordinary citizens and voluntary groups funded by donations.

Our next step will be to work with the City and Ivory Homes to make sure the building process moves forward in a positive way. Any construction project disrupts the neighborhood. We want to mitigate the disruptions and will work with the City, Ivory Homes and the GACC to limit the disruptions to our Avenues neighborhood.

Again, many thanks for your support.

Preserve Our Avenues Coalition

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.