Salt Lake City rejects plans for a gas station next to Sugar House Park. Now what about this page?

A new Kum & Go gas station proposed near Sugar House Park is a no-go instead.

Concerns about the station’s impact on the popular park, neighborhood traffic, and possible fuel leaks or runoff that could affect nearby water supplies prompted Salt Lake City to scrap the plans late Wednesday.

For now, that appears to be derailing efforts to locate the two-story gas station and grocery store on the northwest corner of Sugar House Park, where a long-vacant Sizzler restaurant now stands at the busy intersection of 2100 South and 1300 East.

However, there is also the possibility that the dispute will end up in court.

Planning commission members voted 9-1 to reject a conditional occupancy permit sought by the Iowa-based chain, amid protests from their attorney who argued the move violated city ordinances and state law.

Salt Lake City attorney Chris Hogle said the firm received a wealth of technical information two weeks before Wednesday’s hearing, with a 78-page employee report from the city recommending that the proposal be rejected. He urged the panel to postpone its vote.

“We need more time,” Hogle told the commission, “to respond appropriately.”

The lawyer confirmed early Thursday that Kum & Go intends to appeal the panel’s decision and said the company was “disappointed”.

Rather than determine whether the company can mitigate the expected damage from the gas station, he said, “They asked us, ‘Can you rule out all the possible potential impacts?’ and that’s just too high a standard. It’s just against the law.”

Sugar House Community Council vice chair Judi Short, meanwhile, said Thursday the community was “very pleased with the decision.”

Sources familiar with the issue have confirmed that the city tried unsuccessfully to purchase the property while Kum & Go’s application was pending. It’s unclear what impact Wednesday’s vote might have on those efforts.

The city staff report found that the station faced insurmountable risks of a gas tank leak or a contaminated drain that could damage soil and water resources in the park, Parleys Creek or further downstream.

Hogle said the report contained errors and raised potential risks, which he described as “speculative,” adding that it surprised the company and had little chance of doing anything about it.

“We expected to get a staff report that suggested conditions but didn’t recommend denial,” Hogle said. “And it came like a bolt from the blue. It is therefore only fair that we have the opportunity to provide you with full information so that you can make the right and appropriate decision.”

Some commissioners said they wanted Wednesday’s decision to be postponed to a later date, albeit not a majority.

“If the applicant felt better and that he was being treated fairly by the commission by giving him more time,” said member Andra Gent, “I see no downside risk.” Commissioner Levi de Oliveira also supported the move.

But after further debate, panel member Aimee Burrows substituted a motion to instead have the commission vote to reject the proposal, with only de Oliveira opposed. And as an application for a conditional use permit, the application is officially rejected.

Kum & Go’s plans had drawn hundreds of negative comments from neighbors and city residents, as well as park enthusiasts, borough council members and Amy Fowler, who represents the area on the Salt Lake City City Council and has opposed the proposal.

(Salt Lake City Planning Department) A site plan for the proposed Kum & Go store and gas station at 2100 South and 1300 East in Salt Lake City. The planning commission rejected the plan.

In addition to concerns about the impact of the station on the heavily used regional park, the study also found that the Sizzler site falls within a groundwater recharge zoning that protects its role in replenishing the region’s water supply.

A single leak or eruption of surface runoff could threaten the park, Parleys Creek and the Hidden Hollow Natural Area downstream, warned city planner Diana Martinez, who noted that nearly a quarter of the state’s 3,604 underground storage tanks fail to meet leak-prevention standards corresponded .

“Monitoring for leaks does not prevent leaks,” resident Lynn Schwartz told the commission during a public statement.

Hogle dismissed conclusions that the city was unable to enact conditions for the station’s construction to adequately address the risks from underground storage tanks, fuel vapors, surface runoff, or the truck traffic that the project could add to adjacent streets to mitigate.

“Mitigation does not mean elimination,” the attorney said, at one point pointing to how a judge might interpret the matter. “They cannot ask you to deny this request as we cannot guarantee a perfect website.”

Hogle said the city is also challenging its own central business district zoning for the property, which allows gas stations as conditional use. City officials, he told the commission, “are asking you to repeal the city ordinance. You can not.”

But Burrows said she agrees with the recommendations that given the special circumstances, Kum & Go’s application should be denied.

“The fact that it’s conditional means the city didn’t say, ‘That’s fine. This gas station may be right here, at this point,’” argued Burrow. “It says, ‘Consider this place and consider this use.’ And the details of that lot and use are problematic.”

If Kum & Go contests the outcome, it must appeal to the city hearing officer within 10 days. The officer’s decision can then be appealed to the 3rd District Court.

Kum & Go leases the 2-acre site, which consists of two private lots held by a company called Romney Farr Properties. The new 3,957-square-foot store was proposed as part of an expansion to Utah that the chain announced in 2021.

Justin Scaccy

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