Residents' concern about a potential development at 400 West and 1600 North has caused the Orem City Council to revisit the State Street Master Plan adopted in 2019.
During Tuesday’s council work session, Jason Bench, city planner, reviewed with the council all of the processes and public engagement that occurred since 2015 to make sure the city did what the public wanted.
But as the city has grown, some of those residents have no knowledge of what the city has gone through to provide for safe neighborhoods and opportunities to build multi-family dwellings at the same time.
Mayor Richard Brunst said there were a couple of areas in the city that he felt needed revisiting when it comes to homes, the Northridge area and the Arts District between 400 and 800 South east of State Street.
“My concern is the North Village zone has (multi-family) residential that can be on three sides,” Brunst said. “Residents don’t realize what that zone means.”
Brunst said it would be beneficial to invite neighbors to a meeting to learn more about what has been put in place.
“Northridge residents were unanimous that multi-family housing would be pushed to State Street,” said Councilwoman Debby Lauret. “They did not want these buildings in their neighborhoods.”
Lauret said the neighbors were extremely engaged earlier and it should come as no surprise to anyone how they feel.
Councilman David Spencer said he is concerned about the edge of the zones and perhaps some overlay.
“The edge is huge and the (development) creep,” Spencer said. “We need to revisit this area and meet with the neighbors. This is just wrong.”
According to Bench, the area being discussed had already been zoned commercial prior to the neighborhood discussions. The area was strategically designed not to allow expansion.
“Anyone has the right to stir the pot,” Bench said. “That doesn’t mean the council will pass a zone change.”
Councilmembers all had some comment about portions of the districting and what they have heard from residents and business owners in the five districts.
“Lots of work has gone into this,” Councilman Terry Peterson said. “During my campaigning last year I didn’t hear any business owners (along State Street) that were happy.”
Peterson noted the world has changed in the past five years, particularly how we do business, work from home, etc.
“We need to be careful that this is it,” Peterson said. “Be careful what the future really is.”
Clark said city officials aren’t advocating for lots of multi-family dwellings, but they need to be ready for it with predictions of 1,000 new residents each year until 2040.
He also said that since the State Street Master Plan was passed, there hasn’t been one large development plan submitted.
“We’re always going to deal with NIMBY-ism,” Clark said, referring to the popular “not in my back yard” attitude. “We have to do what’s best for the city.”
The council was also counseled by Jamie Davidson, city manager, about why the city was being so strategic.
There is a large effort afoot for the restriction of city councils to redistrict land use, Davidson noted.
The Utah State Legislature is considering taking away individual authority by cities and councils on land use and zoning issues.
The legislature is looking at several mandates, including affordable housing.
Davidson said, “If the state pushes against housing we’ve had in the past, we will be told what to do.”
Brunst noted the discussion on this matter could go on for days and weeks and asked to carry the discussion forward to another meeting.