Conflict over monastery property prompts building moratorium

Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT), 2014-09-03

Sept. 03 -- SOUTH OGDEN -- After lengthy discussion, the South Ogden City Council unanimously approved a citywide 120-day moratorium on all building applications that would require zone changes, conditional use permits or approvals by the planning commission or the city council.

However, the sweeping ban on building stops short of halting any currently permitted use on private property.

"So tomorrow, if there's a permitted use on a certain property, it will just be processed as normal because there is no land-use decision that needs to be made," City Manager Matthew Dixon told the council during Tuesday night's discussion.

Neighborhood outcry over a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center proposed for the former Mount Benedict Monastery property fueled Tuesday's action.

In mid-August, the planning commission approved a conditional use permit that would allow the STEPS Recovery Program to house 20 clients there. STEPS Recovery Director Mike Jorgensen had asked for approval for 64.

Both residents and Jorgensen have since filed to have an independent hearing officer review the case, said South Ogden Mayor James Minster , adding that if either side is dissatisfied with the outcome of that pending review, the issue could end up in court.

Jerry Cottrell , who lives near the pastoral 18-acre monastery property, was strongly in favor of the council imposing the moratorium.

"Don't be afraid to use your own good judgment, and please drive this bus," Cottrell told council members during public comments Tuesday.

The newly approved citywide moratorium does not replace a 90-day moratorium passed in mid-June on receiving or processing development or building applications for the area east of Adams Avenue , west of 1225 East and south of U.S. 89 . While that area included the monastery, the moratorium did not apply to applications from STEPS, which were already in progress.

That ban expires next Wednesday, and council members could revisit and extend it for another 90 days. However, as currently written, it would hinder homeowners from undertaking building projects such as replacing a furnace.

City Attorney Ken Bradshaw said the new 120-day moratorium will give the council time to analyze permitted uses across the entire city.

"We really need to get control and decide on permitted uses. That's the driving force behind this," Councilman Bryan Benard said.

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or . Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.


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