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West Valley City Journal

1931 home saved in rezone

Aug 07, 2022 09:00PM ● By Travis Barton

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

Typically when land is redeveloped, existing buildings on the property are often demolished to make way for the new plans. But for property at 5200 West and 3789 South, that will not be the case.

The West Valley City Council approved a rezone in early July that will see a home, originally built in 1931, preserved as part of a new subdivision.

“The bones on this home are really good,” said Ken Milne, the applicant and developer who worked to keep the home intact as part of the proposed project.

Seven lots, including the existing home, will make up the 1.93-acre land along 5200 West across from Farm Station Way. Four lots will front 5200 West while three flag lots will be built behind them.

The land is owned by the Rueckert family, whose forefather bought in the mid-1880’s, including the surrounding property adding up to 40 acres according to Becky Rueckert, one of the family members in charge of the property.

“He (her great-great-grandfather) bought that property to bless the lives of his family and for over five generations it has,” she told the council.

While she’s not excited to sell the property off, she told the council “it would be a travesty to have the home destroyed.”

She noted contractors were impressed with the quality of the home several years ago as they looked to make it more comfortable for their father.

“Please keep the home, it’s in perfect shape, it would stand as a testament to our family for many years,” she said.

That was part of Milne’s purpose, he said, as they tried to find the best configuration of the property that fit the neighborhood.

“If this home was a piece of garbage, I wouldn’t bother keeping it,” he told the council. “But this one is worth keeping.”

Milne added with the Newton Farms subdivision, another neighborhood in the city, they preserved an older home and this 1931 home is in better condition.

He also noted they weren’t trying to squeeze a bunch of lots on the property either as part of their plan, so the three flag lot homes are on larger parcels of land (the smallest is 13,423 square feet).

“We’re trying to keep the lots as big as we can,” he said. “We have put a lot of thought into this and think this will be a good location for the types of homes that we build.”

Other community members who spoke on the rezone application were concerned about the flag lots and the shared driveway for two of those lots.

Patty Martin, who lives behind the property and even held her wedding on the land, was worried about how close the flag lot homes would be to her property line.

Councilman Tom Huynh, the only dissenting vote, was appreciative of the developer building bigger lots higher than the city’s minimum standard, but was concerned with homes having neighbors front yards directly behind them and the tendencies of those who live behind where they have more privacy.

Several councilmembers also said they didn’t favor flag lots, but felt it was an appropriate use for the land.

“I’m not a fan of flag lots, especially with two lanes on either side, but given the unique dimensions of the property I’ll be in favor,” Councilman William Whetstone said.

Councilman Lars Nordfelt shared those concerns but was encouraged by Milne having “been a great partner with the city.”

“This is a strange shaped and sized lot and I think this is a good compromise even though it might not be ideal,” he said. “It’s great to preserve this historic home.”