Planner looks at making codes less restrictive in industrial, residential areas

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - The McDonalds in Sandy was one of the most recently remodeled businesses to implement Sandy style. In an effort to give Sandy a cohesive look, the city has for years implemented a style code for development and existing businesses.

"I think it's primarily to make the aesthetics in Sandy match or exceed the town we're trying to become," explained Sandy City Planner Kelly O'Neill.

The code prescribes a Cascadia, English arts-and-crafts style similar to that of the iconic Timberline Lodge and has been in use for about a decade.

"The code's very prescriptive," said O'Neill.

It is even more so within the downtown core of the city. It becomes less so the further out from the core you get. There are also separate design standards for apartment complexes and residential areas.

"If it's a new build, it has to be Sandy style," O'Neill said. "If it's a rebuild, we try to work with the property owner and developer."

Although the code has been around for a while, O'Neill said city staff have found problem areas to revisit and possibly revise.

"The code is actually not that clear (when) it's an existing building," O'Neill said. "We try to work with them and come up with a reasonable approach to it."

When faced with inconvenient aspects of the style code, some businesses apply for variances. Some simply comply. One of the most recent places to implement the style was McDonald's during it's remodel.

"Some corporations are really easy to work with and meet Sandy style, and then others are a little bit more resistant," O'Neill said.

In 2020, O'Neill and his staff plan to review and revise parts of the code where there have been recurring requests for a variance or questions.

"We're trying to identify areas where every applicant is having issues meeting requirements," O'Neill said.

Some of the biggest proposed changes include making the industrial requirements less restrictive, such as by lowering the required pitch of roofs on industrial buildings or not requiring a heavy vegetation screening.

"It seems like a waste of materials and money," he added. "It will save the property owners and developers some money and might stimulate growth in the industrial area. Hopefully we get some new jobs out if it and more developed land."

Other major changes may include some to the apartment code.

"I think cities that have design standards benefit from those design standards," O'Neill explained. "But I realize there's a balance between design standards and what we can get out of them and not making them too onerous. I think the code was written well, but I think after 11 years we've identified a few issues and we're trying to address those issues."

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