Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS – The Cottonwood Heights Planning Commission approved a permit for a Google Fiber utility building despite opposition from some residents concerned about the sight and sound it would bring to their neighborhood.
As it is now, there is nothing out of the ordinary about a patch of grass at the back of St. Thomas More Catholic Church's property. And homeowners on the other side of the fence of that property want to keep it that way.
"We do not oppose the Google Fiber building coming to Cottonwood Heights," said Nick Wills, who lives nearby.
But he and others on his cul-de-sac and up the street are opposed to the company's request for a conditional-use building permit on the church's private property. The permit would allow Google to build a 350-square-foot utility building that's 13.5 feet tall, with an 8-foot fence around it.
"It's just an eyesore," Wills said. "These types of utilities are typically in industrial areas directly next to freeways and or other utility services."
"We just feel like it's being built at the expense of the community," Jenn Wills told the planning commission during the public comment portion of Wednesday's meeting.
At the core of their concern was the view the building will give them and the sound it would bring.
"We have a line-of-sight issue here," another neighbor told the commission. "Eight feet is not going to be good enough."
"I live in the center house when you look at the diagram of the three houses that are directly across from the proposed building and I'm concerned about the noise," Monika Haynes said. "This is a residential neighborhood. I don't want a powerplant in my neighborhood, I don't want a water treatment plant in my neighborhood. I don't want a utility in my neighborhood."
"Our proposal meets all of the current standards so we're not asking for any unique exceptions," said Jacob Brace, who works with Google.
The building would have two air conditioning units that run throughout the day and a generator that would run occasionally for tests and during outages. Google representatives assured the commission and residents that the noise would be minimal for people inside their homes. They also stressed their willingness to include conditions to help bring down the noise and make the building more appealing.
"We understand that, you know, not everyone may want to look at this," said Harry Johnson, a Google Fiber representative. "We want to be a good neighbor. We're going to be here for a long time. And we want to make sure that folks can go about their daily business while enjoying high-speed internet."
Google representatives met with neighbors about the proposal on Tuesday, the day before the meeting, but some neighbors weren't impressed.
"Ultimately we are asking for more time. Since meeting with Google Fiber, we have only had 24 hours to ask questions," Wills told the commission, saying there are other locations to put the utility building.
But about an hour into the meeting, time was up and commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the permit, adding as conditions a sound wall, vinyl fencing and landscaping to help lesson the sound and improve the sight.
The building is still not a guarantee. The Cottonwood Heights City Council still needs to come to an agreement with Google to bring their fiber service to tens of thousands in the city.