CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Building will soon begin for the new Iron County Jail on Auto Mall Drive near the heart of Cedar City.

County Commissioners unanimously approved it Monday morning after narrowing down the possibilities to four sites in late February.

“Here’s a property that may be available that may be a good prospect out of the Auto Mall site and here’s a possible layout for that site with a one-pod jail with a second pod option, where that could be located,” says Karsten Reed, the county assessor.

That location was Sheriff Ken Carpenter’s preference due to its accessibility for law enforcement and its affordability, but most of the residents at Monday’s public hearing spoke against it.

“We believe this is prime commercial property and residential property because it’s right off of Main Street – it is zoned either residential or commercial, it is right by the north interchange, we don’t believe this is a good spot to welcome people into our area,” says Sheral Whicker.

More than 300 people even signed a petition against building the jail on Auto Mall Drive and at first, Cedar City’s Economic Developer, Danny Stewart, said he had concerns too.

“For the past 7.5 years I’ve looked at that property, as has been described the most valuable asset we have for commercial retail development, and we desperately need that on the north end of our community,” he says.

But Stewart says that, after talking with experts, he believes having the jail closer to the heart of the city may actually have positive economic impacts.

“I don’t see that impacting the commercial development up there, it’s far enough removed. I don’t know that it will be detrimental to my ability to promote the north interchange for retail development,” he says.

County Commissioners say they don’t plan to use all 40 acres on the property for the jail and they’re expecting the facility to take up closer to 15 acres.

They say they plan to offset it from the highway far enough to not disrupt any nearby neighborhoods.

The project is expected to go on for the next three years.