The article was updated on May 17, 2013.
ST. GEORGE – Lengthy discussion was had in the St. George City Council meeting Thursday night during a public hearing concerning whether or not the city should vacate 1700 South per an applicant’s request. The applicant was Stephen Wade. Challenging the application were representatives of Painter’s auto dealership who argued a vacation of the road would harm future business and property value.
Despite Painter’s objections the city council approved the application in a 3-2 vote.
When the city vacates something, it is giving up ownership of that item to another entity, group or private individual. Sometimes the land is sold to the applicant asking for the vacation, sometimes it isn’t. It varies depending on the circumstances.
In this case the item being vacated was 1700 South – one of the streets between Hilton Drive and Black Ridge Drive. Wade owns the property on both sides of the street.
Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager, said 1700 South was originally donated to the city by the property owner. In a sense, the city was giving the property back with the street vacation. No money was exchanged in this instance.
In a move to help with the creation of a new auto dealership, plus grant easier access between the various dealerships, Wade applied to the city to acquire the road. This will ultimately lead to the street no longer existing.
The city council had some concerns about emergency access to the area should the road be vacated, but were told allowances would be made by the applicant to provide for that eventuality.
The Painter family – which currently owns a Mitsubishi Dealership and the property it’s located on, and the property on which the Camping World RV dealership is located, on Hilton Drive and 1600 South – has also acquired the property above Black Ridge Drive that used to be used by the Legacy Subaru dealership. They argue that closing down 1700 South, which leads right into the street that provides access to the Legacy property – will financially harm the businesses and the properties’ market values.
Attorney V. Lowry Snow, representing the Painter family, said an appraisal had been done by appraising company Morely & McConkie that estimated that the Legacy property would lose between 2 and 5 percent of its market value if the road is lost.
“(The Painters) are very concerned about the adverse impact to their property,” Snow said.
Patrick Painter, whose father originally opened the Painter’s Sun County auto dealership 40 years ago, also said the lack of the road would damage the property’s exposure. The less exposure the Legacy property has to passersby, the less viable it is.
Snow said the council didn’t have to approve the road vacation, especially if “good cause” wasn’t sufficiently established by the applicant and if the public interest were materially harmed somehow. Just because Wade wants better access to his dealerships and room to expand is not a good enough reason to give the road away, he said.
“This is arguably for the benefit of the (Stephen Wade) auto dealer,” Snow said.
“Any attempts to remove a street or public access will be detrimental to the public and to us,” Painter said.
“In no way do I want to hurt anybody,” Wade said to the city council. “We’re trying to open a new dealership and remodel three others.”
Wade added there was very little traffic on 1700 South, and that what traffic was there tended to be Stephen Wade employees.
Tyler Hoskins of Southwest Consulting, who had conducted a traffic study of the Black Ridge Drive and 1700 South intersection, said much the same. Traffic on the street is minimal. As well, the intersection is a potential traffic hazard should someone attempt to cross Black Ridge Drive which has become increasingly busy with the completion of the Dixie Drive Interchange.
The council votes
“These are not always the easiest decisions,” St. George Mayor Dan McArthur said after the public hearing concluded.
“I don’t think we need the road,” Councilmember Jon Pike said. “We don’t need it, we won’t need it.”
At one time the city had planned to connect Airport Road with the bit of roadway that was built across from 1700 South, but as that project was killed due to a clash with city hillside ordinances, it provides access to the old Legacy Subaru property now and little more.
“To me (vacating the road) doesn’t materially harm anybody,” Pike said.
Councilmember Jimmie Hughes wasn’t so sure.
“This obviously has some impact on the Painters,” Hughes said. “How can you benefit one at the expense of another?”
When a motion to vote was called, Hughes and Ben Nichols voted against vacating the road, Pike, Gail Bunker and Gil Almquist voted in favor of it.
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