Several Spanish Valley residents attended a public hearing held at the Mar. 15 Grand County Commission meeting on a request for a zone change on an 11-acre parcel on Spanish Valley Drive. The parcel is currently zoned rural residential, like neighboring parcels, meaning the maximum density allowed is one residential unit per acre (with some limited exceptions made for concessions of open space or affordable housing). The requested zoning, small-lot residential, would allow for a minimum lot size of 0.2 acres.

The applicant proposes to build a housing subdivision with nine duplex lots and 20 single-family lots for a total of 38 housing units with an average lot size of 0.23 acres.

Jim Schnepel, a representative for the applicant attended the meeting to present the request. He emphasized that Grand County needs more mid-priced housing as well as affordable housing, and the project would help fill that need.

Some neighbors to the property spoke in vehement opposition to the rezone, saying they purchased their lots in that area with the desire to live a rural lifestyle and want to avoid increased traffic and complaints about their agricultural practices—complaints about smells and noise from fertilizers and animals, for example.

Rhonda Gotway-Clyde, who operates a nearby farm, said she believed that it’s important to keep land zoned for agricultural uses open for the community to provide its own food.

The Grand County Attorney’s Office said they were also opposed to the rezoning as there are no applicable affordable housing incentives or requirements that could be applied to the increased density project.

County staff is neutral on the application, while the Grand County Planning Commission submitted an unfavorable recommendation because the rezone would be an instance of “spot zoning.” The planning commission stated it intends to use a “big-picture lens” to determine zoning changes, in conjunction with the general plan and land use code updates that are underway.

Recent Utah State legislation could also affect the county’s approach to development, and the Attorney’s Office said that staff would require more time to evaluate the impact of those bills.

The public hearing on the rezoning request will remain open through March 23.