By Allison Carland
In a 3-1 decision last week, the Provo Planning Commission voted to recommend a zoning change for Joaquin neighborhood, located just south of BYU.
The decision means the commission will give the City Council a recommendation to freeze development in the neighborhood between University Ave. and 400 East; and between Center Street and 500 North, said Kevin Callahan, assistant director of community development.
He said the recommendation also includes architectural compatibility standards requiring new buildings to fit in with the neighborhood.
“If you allow other housing to come into the neighborhood, it should fit the goal to preserve the single family appearance of South Joaquin,” Callahan said.
The decision brought mixed reactions from proponents of both sides of the down-zoning issue.
Bonnie Callis, Joaquin neighborhood chair, said the decision is a disappointment to residents who wanted the commission to save historic homes in the neighborhood and increase homeowner occupancy. Callis said changing the zoning to residential-only property would have accomplished these goals.
“Many of the finest historic homes have been carved up and cashed out and we need to save them,” Callis said.
Although Callis and a few residents in the heavily student-populated area wanted to preserve its single family appearance with a drastic zoning change, Planning Commission Vice Chairman Roy Peterman said a medium ground had to be met.
“We recommended a down-zoning, but not the one the neighborhood chair asked for,” Peterman said. “If it was down-zoned in the way the neighborhood wanted it, 75 percent of the dwellings would be in non-compliance.”
Residents and landlords who rent their property to students in the neighborhood were happy about the commission”s recommendation, said Daniel Hopkins, Joaquin neighborhood resident.
Hopkins said the value of the triplex his father-in-law owns in the area would have decreased significantly if the commission had made the neighborhood residential-only property. He said the recommendation approved by the commission would save the neighborhood without hurting owners and students.
“I agree that preservation of the neighborhood is important, but it is hard to stop change when students are dominant in the area,” Hopkins said.
Peterman said the commission has made its recommendation to the City Council, and it will be discussed at the next council meeting on August 7. SCAMP, a development proposal for the area above the Joaquin neighborhood, will also be discussed at the meeting.