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South Salt Lake Journal

Hair studio owner wins appeal for new business

Nov 11, 2021 10:44AM ● By Bill Hardesty

The future site of the Curly Hair Studio at 242 E. 2100 South after an appeal to the South Salt Lake Planning Commission. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

There is an adage that says, “You can’t fight city hall.” But, for Rachel Hoang, she did and she won.

At the Oct. 7 South Salt Lake Planning Commission meeting, Hoang, owner of Curly Hair Studio, appealed a variant request decision by the Community Development Director Alex White. In this case, the Planning Commission becomes judge and jury to determine the fate of the appeal.

Either party can appeal their decision to the district court. When asked if the city was going to appeal, Sean Lewis, deputy community development director, said, “South Salt Lake City will continue to review all available options, then make a decision based upon what is prudent and wise for the City and our business and residential stakeholders.”


Curly Hair Studio has two locations outside the city and wanted to open a third studio in South Salt Lake City. They bought an old home at 242 E. 2100 South with the intent to remodel it. The houses and buildings facing north on 2100 South from State Street to 400 East are zoned for professional services, including hair salons.

When Curly Hair Studio submitted its plans to the Community Department, three significant issues were found.

According to City Code 17.06.160, Barber Shop, Hair Salon, and Day Spa are required to have one parking stall for every 250 square feet of a building. The building at 242 E. 2100 South is 910 square feet. With rounding up, Curly Hair Studio needs four stalls. The plan only has three in the back.

The same part of the code requires parking stalls to be 9-feet wide and 20-feet deep. The plan has 9 feet in width, but the stalls are only 16-feet long. In addition, the one-way drive aisle needs to be 24-feet wide. This requirement is to accommodate fire apparatus. In this case, the drive aisle ranges from 9-feet-9 inches to 24-feet-2 inches. The smallest part of the drive aisle is because the design calls for an ADA ramp in front.

Curly Hair Studio requested three variances in a letter dated July 12 on the number of stalls, the length of the parking stall and the width of the drive aisle. The Community Development Director, the land use authority for variances, denied the request in a three-page letter dated Aug. 24.

Hoang agreed to lease five parking spots in a nearby parking lot to help meet the parking stall requirement.


Hoang appealed to the Planning Commission, the appellate authority for appeals of decisions by the Community Development Director. The request is called an appeal de novo, which means the Planning Commission looks at the appeal as a new application without regard to previous analysis or decision.

The Community Development Department is required to create a Statement of Facts for the Planning Commission.

 According to state law (Code 17.12.010(B)), there are five criteria to grant a variance:

  1. Literal enforcement of the Land Use Regulations would cause an unreasonable hardship for the applicant that is not necessary to carry out the general purpose of the Land Use Regulations.
  2. There are special circumstances attached to the property that do not generally apply to the properties in the same district.
  3. Granting the variance is essential to the enjoyment of a substantial property right possessed by other property in the same zoning district.
  4. The variance will not substantially affect the general plan and will be contrary to the public interest.
  5. The spirit of the land use ordinances is observed, and substantial justice is done.

“This is a textbook case of what a variance should be and is,” said Justin Matkin, the attorney for Hoang.

Matkin explained that all the issues occur because the property is 41-feet wide, and the ordinance requires 44 feet. So the problem is 3 feet.

Matkin argued the hardship is because the property cannot be used for what it was purchased for.

“In fact, not only would she not be able to use it, but nobody would,” Matkin said. “It’s literally impossible to have anyone use this property for the purpose it is zoned.”

Before voting, chairperson Laura Vernon asked each commissioner to voice their opinion if all five criteria were met. The Planning Commission voted 6-0 to approve the variance with the requirement of the additional parking stalls in the parking lot.

As the applicant left, Commissioner Mary Ann Southey said, “Welcome to South Salt Lake.”