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West Valley City Journal

Council to examine definition of food establishments in city code

Dec 06, 2021 03:48PM ● By Travis Barton

5600 West from 3100 South to 3500 South. (Courtesy West Valley City documents)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

There are restaurants. There is fast food. But what is in between?   

That’s what the West Valley City Council will evaluate after a recent decision to deny a proposed amendment to city code that would have allowed three “fast-food establishments” in the same building. 

Petersen Staggs Architects, representing WinCo Foods, recently applied for a change in city code that would amend allowing fast food with drive thrus in the 5600 West overlay zone (which runs along 5600 West from 3100 south to almost State Route 201). The change would have allowed one building to house Human Bean Coffee, Jersey Mike’s Subs and MOD Pizza on a retail pad along 5600 West in front of WinCo. 

However, current city code regulates fast-food establishments in overlay zones, of which the city has three. Two of those overlay zones, Jordan River and Decker Lake Station, prohibit fast-food establishments altogether since they were created in the ’90s. The council denied a proposal in 2019 to allow fast food in the Decker Lake Station zone in order to keep its goals for the area as an entertainment district. 

The 5600 West zone, created in 2004, was amended in 2012 to allow fast-food restaurants in multi-tenant buildings under certain conditions. The idea was to diversify the kinds of food establishments in the area. 

Current code doesn’t allow for a building with all fast-food occupants and only restaurants and fast food are defined. All three proposed tenants would be considered fast food. 

“There’s no definition of any type of establishment in between,” said Chad Pollock, a principal architect with Petersen Staggs representing WinCo. “When the code was established, the dining experience was much different than it is today.” 

Pollock told the council during its Oct. 26 meeting that many pizza restaurants used to be a sit- down place, but now replaced them with counter pick up. He also noted delis and bakeries aren’t accounted for in the code. 

“Maybe the code is outdated for the times that we have right now,” he said. 

In a letter to the mayor and council from Greg Goins, WinCo’s vice president of real estate, he wrote that “West Valley City is an exciting community that quality fast food/quick serve style restaurants want to serve” and that to “maximize their draw and success” these restaurants want to occupy one building for a “synergistic effect.” 

Though the planning commission unanimously approved the application, the council denied the application in a 6-1 vote. Councilmembers felt the request wasn’t significant enough to make a change to the entire zone. 

“That amendment (in 2012) was made to allow some of the drive thrus to be able to work,” Councilman Don Christensen said in the meeting. “I think it worked in 2012 and has been working since then.” 

Councilman Lars Nordfelt said the intent isn’t just to diversify the restaurants. 

“We also want to diversify the kinds of services that would go there on that corridor and not all of them be food services,” he said. 

While Councilman Jake Fitisemanu didn’t want to change the whole zone based on this one proposal, he did think it was worth further discussion. 

“I think times have changed and definitions around fast casual and fast food and sit down perhaps have changed,” he said. “That maybe warrants a separate further discussion.”