The Thursday, October 10, Lehi City Planning Commission meeting was dominated by discussion of Bed and Breakfast conditional use permits for two Lehi residents, as well as the latest concept plan for a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) on the Lehi Block property off 1200 West.
The first conditional use permit for a Bed and Breakfast on the agenda was for Jenna Madsen in her home at 511 North 1375 West in a residential/agriculture zone. City staff read the definition of a Bed and Breakfast Inn as, “Owner occupied, private, single-family residence in which one to five rooms are rented for overnight lodging to travelers and breakfast is provided to guests at no extra cost. Stays cannot exceed 30 consecutive days.” The maximum occupancy for a Bed and Breakfast is ten, including the residents.
The Madsens currently have an approved Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) for their home and city staff recommended to the Planning Commission that they allow either the ADU or the Bed and Breakfast, but not both at the same time.
“We finished our basement with the intent to rent it. We’d love to have a long-term renter, but if we can’t find one, we wanted to have the option of short term,” explained Jenna Madsen. Many of the Madsen’s neighbors emailed members of the Planning Commission to express their concerns, and several showed up to the October 10 meeting to go on record during the public hearing with those concerns.
“The property has been listed on Airbnb since June. The police have been called several times, but the Madsens continue to list the property. They’re trying to make a buck. The elementary school is less than 600 feet away, which is a violation of the law. They’re being unscrupulous and selfish,” said neighbor Ryan Johnson.
Chloe Johnson, another neighbor to the Madsens, read the description of the home on the Airbnb website listing. “They are asking $49 a night, which is a significantly lower rate than any hotel or motel in the area, and the listing says up to 12 individuals can be accommodated. They advertise a ‘quiet neighborhood with plenty of street parking,’” said Johnson. She continued to read the requirements and policies of Airbnb for several minutes to argue their background check policies are inadequate.
After more neighbors expressed their concerns, the Madsens returned to the microphone to explain that Airbnb had the wrong number of occupants in their initial listing and the number of cars parking on the street has been greatly reduced since they finished the construction of their basement. “I hope you’ll look past the emotional clamor. All the people who have spoken tonight have my phone number and this is the first time we’ve heard their concerns. This is our legal right and we’re compliant with regulations,” said Madsen.
Planning Commission Member Matt Hemmert reminded the commission that there is a high standard for denial of the conditional use permit for a Bed and Breakfast. Hemmert also asked why the code doesn’t require the same distance from an elementary school that is required of hotels and motels.
“The intent of a Bed and Breakfast is not that it be used as an Airbnb. A Bed and Breakfast is supposed to be a romantic place where breakfast is served, not the basement apartment in a residential neighborhood,” said Planning Commission Member Jared Peterson.
“I’m all for homeowners taking advantage of their property. We’ve approved other Bed and Breakfasts – even one in my neighborhood,” said Planning Commission Member Tyson Eyre.
“I’m looking at the ‘general welfare’ in considering this item. Is this injurious to the peace of the area? What is reasonable?” asked Hemmert.
“If Abe [Nielsen] were here he would say that we don’t do background checks on our neighbors moving in next door,” said Planning Commission Member Bill Hereth.
“The House passed a bill in 2017 that says we as a city cannot police postings in any way. We can suggest they change their Airbnb listing, but we can’t require it,” said Eyre. He then pointed out that the distance between the Madsen’s home and the elementary school was measured by sidewalk and road access, not as the crow flies, which would be well over 600 feet.
After more discussion among the members of the Planning Commission, Brent Everett made a motion not to approve the Madsen’s conditional use permit for a Bed and Breakfast because it is currently being used as an ADU and it meets that standard, and because it potentially impacts the welfare, safety and convenience of the residential neighborhood. “The purpose in the general plan is for there to be a residential neighborhood and not a commercial room-for-rent type of property. They’ve previously operated as an Airbnb and not a Bed and Breakfast,” Everett concluded his motion. The motion did not pass. Tyson Eyre then motioned to approve the conditional use permit with several conditions, including the Madsens put a fence on two sides of the property, provide adequate off-street parking, require daylight arrival and departures of guests, and that they not use the basement as an ADU and a B & B at the same time. That motion also did not pass.
After more discussion, another motion to deny the Madsen’s conditional use permit for a Bed and Breakfast was issued and passed by one vote.
Only a few minutes after the Madsen’s Bed and Breakfast item on the Planning Commission agenda was Mary Davenport’s request for a conditional use permit for a Bed and Breakfast in her basement at 1835 North 500 West in a residential zone. Davenport told the Planning Commission members that she wants to use Airbnb to supplement the family income and allow her to be a stay-at-home mom. Her home is on a flag lot, making street parking a non-issue. During the public hearing on the item, neighbor Nola Hooley said, “I think she should go for it.”
“Everything that was a problem with the last Bed and Breakfast isn’t a problem here. Even the neighbor supports it,” commented Hereth.
Tyson Eyre made a motion to approve Davenport’s conditional use permit for a Bed and Breakfast and the motion passed with Brent Everett voting no “to be consistent.”
Matthew Porter’s request for review of the Victorian Crossing zone change and 3-lot commercial development at 1000 South 2300 West brought a handful of neighbors to the Planning Commission meeting to express their concerns. None of the residents surrounding the proposed development were opposed to it, they wondered how the large parking lot and proposed entrance would affect traffic in the neighborhood. Porter thanked the residents for their input and promised to make necessary changes. The Planning Commission unanimously voted to approve the recommendation for Porter’s property zone change from R-1-22 (residential/agriculture) to Neighborhood Commercial, as well as his concept for the development.
Most of the remainder of the October 10 Planning Commission meeting was taken by requests from Boyer and Gardner Companies for the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) on the 30 acres formerly occupied by Lehi Block at 2303 North 1200 West. Boyer and Gardner asked for a zone change on the property from Industrial to TOD, which was unanimously approved. The request for a review of the concept generated more questions and discussion. According to city staff, the current concept (different from the one they presented in March 2019) includes office, retail, and multi-family residences. The development will take place in two phases. The DRC had 27 comments on the item, including that the concept’s first phase can only support 300 housing units with the existing utilities and infrastructure. Even in phase two of the development, the concept doesn’t reach the floor area ration (FAR) for a TOD zone. Boyer and Gardner intend to ask for a zone variation in the future.
“TODs don’t happen overnight. We want to develop this first phase responsibly so we can build inward and add parking structures. We don’t want to promise any more than we can deliver,” said Boyer.
Members of the Planning Commission expressed concern about the development’s proximity to transit. The property is not in an existing TOD, but it’s within half a mile of the future hospital transit station and a quarter of a mile from the future 2100 North station. To meet TOD walkability standards, Boyer and Gardner will need to build a pedestrian bridge over 1200 West.
“This concept is good, but I think we can do better,” said Eyre.
“The code says there needs to be a variety of housing types, not apartment types. I think you’re crazy to put that much density there. Workers aren’t going to live there they’ll need to drive. There’s already too much traffic on 1200 West,” said Michelle Stallings, a Lehi resident.
“Access to the freeway will change significantly when the Tech Corridor is complete. You won’t have to use 1200 West to get to the freeway,” said Hereth.
Boyer and Gardner Companies’ request for review of the Lehi Block concept was approved by the Planning Commission with Tyson Eyre the only negative vote.