Ephraim grants request for housing near commercial buildings

Robert Stevens / Messenger Drone Photo
The Ephraim City Council, by a 3-2 vote, approved development of the parcel next to Layton Autobody into complex containing 14 single family homes.Anafi 1.7.6

EPHRAIM—A request to build 14 townhomes between two commercial properties on the north end Main Street in Ephraim was approved last week.

But the 4-2 vote of the Ephraim Planning and Zoning Commission and the final 3-2 vote by the city council reflected reservations by some members of both panels.

The site is at 746 N. 50 East just south of Layton Autobody. Developer Luke Kockniuk wants to build a 14 townhomes, each containing two bedrooms and one bathroom. The townhomes would sell in the low-$150,000 range, and Kockniuk said here is virtually no similar housing in Ephraim.

The market is single individuals who want to begin investing instead of renting.  “Business professionals is our target market,” said Kockniuk. The location is close to Walmart and other businesses.

When the request hit Planning and Zoning, members also initially approved it 4-2, then reversed that decision and tabled the request. They decided they wanted to city council to decide what to do.

Lisa Murray, chair of the planning commission, said, “Our biggest concern was the actual location of the units, in the middle of commercial businesses. Will the structures be compatible with surrounding structures? Also, the zoning committee wants to make sure any possible complaints with neighboring businesses can be mitigated through clearly thought-out conditions.”

The area is zoned C-2, “multiple use” meaning it can have commercial or residential uses. Most of Ephraim’s Main Street is in that zoning classification and has retail and office buildings mixed with homes.

Because of the size of the Kockniuk’s parcel, a conditional use permit is required for the project. The first condition the council discussed was requiring buyers to sign a document acknowledging that they know what they are getting into, that they’re aware Layton Autobody could be bringing cars to its building 24 hours per day and that they might hear noise coming from the shop.

Another condition was that the homes be owner-occupied on a permanent basis. The council didn’t want any of the units to turn into rental properties. There was also the safety concern of children living next to businesses that have parking lots and traffic.

The developer said the project would be fenced, and the council wanted the fencing to match fencing on adjacent properties. The development would be managed by a home owner’s association, which could do its own maintenance or contract with a management company.

The developer agreed to all of the conditions.

Councilman Tyler Alder, who along with councilman Lloyd Stevens, voted against the request said, “Years ago, except for Main Street, Ephraim mostly had commercial separate from homes. Now, with our growth, that’s no longer possible. The challenge is to be careful where we let these areas happen.”

Councilwoman Margie Anderson said she had challenges in the past with HOAs, especially those that were not run by the owners themselves. “A separate HOA management company may just not have the owners’ best interests at heart,” she said.

Earlier in the meeting, Lindsey Field and Dale Strickland, sought approval of a conditional use permit for a five-unit multifamily development in an R4 zone at 64 W. Center, in an R4 zone. That request was approved unanimously.

Meanwhile, the council declared a six-month moratorium on requests for water connections outside the city. Councilman Richard Wheeler said, “We cannot have our water quality compromised by connecting with properties outside the city. Most of these requests are “dead-end” lines, rather than water loops that would circulate water to different areas.”