On Oct. 17, 2018, in a unanimous 7-0 vote, the Orem City Council approved the complete redesign and districting of State Street in a master plan that goes from 2100 North, south to 1200 North in Provo.
The furthest north district in the city is called the North Village that is centered on the 1600 North and State Street area. Part of the district takes in the area between State Street and 400 West along 1600 North.
Until now, the State Street Master Plan appeared to be just what the residents ordered, including a buffer between the single-family neighborhood homes and State Street developments.
Now, for the first time, a developer has applied for and complied with the master plan. That compliance allows for mixed-use units on 400 West across from and next to neighborhood homes.
The development would replace a Hawaiian Shaved Ice shack and used car business, with four townhomes facing 400 West, 43 condominiums in a five-story high-rise, behind the townhomes and closer to State Street, underground parking and retail facing 1600 North.
All of the units will be owner occupied.
LaNae Millett, an area resident and several other of her neighbors, are extremely concerned the proposed development will have adverse effects on traffic in the area, among other concerns.
“This area is already stressed to the max,” Millett said. “The traffic study that was done does not adequately represent traffic in the area.”
Millett points out that the study was done during COVID when traffic was greatly reduced, and it was done during the slowest times of the day.
The 1600 North corridor provides access to two elementary schools, a junior high school and Timpanogos High School.
“At 7 a.m. the traffic is backed up,” Millett said. She added that people coming from the north to the south could be forced to take the smaller street at 1830 North and that would lead them into the heart of the neighborhoods.
Millett also noted that an access point to the development off State Street doesn’t make sense and would not be approved by the Utah Department of Transportation that owns the highway.
“This has been brought up to the city several times before this development,” Millett noted.
“We are so perplexed they are moving forward,” Millett said. “We’re feeling the traffic study is illegitimate.”
Millett and others could potentially ask for another traffic study to be done at a different time and with more sophisticated equipment than just counting, but they may have to pay for it.
Millett said she believes the residents were also misled by the city about the proper setbacks needed for development on that corner.
The State Street Master Plan includes all the zoning requirements for future developers and architects to get it right without having to go through the City Council, but rather just the Planning Commission for approvals.
During the 2018 council vote, then long-range planner for the city Christian Kirkham said the State Street Master Plan had been in the works for the five years prior.
Over those past five years, the city had engaged several key stakeholders including Utah Department of Transportation, Provo, Utah Transit Authority, business owners, developers and residents in planning the future look of Orem, State Street and down to the very location of the currently proposed development.
While the developer’s plans are not final, the developer appears to have met the master plan requirements, according to Ryan Clark, Community Services director.
“This project meets every goal of the State Street Master Plan,” Clark said. “It meets the codes and ordinances and application has been made.
“We’ve treated this development like any other development in the city,” Clark added.
Before the developer can meet with the Planning Commission he must meet with the residents. That meeting was scheduled to occur Monday evening.
The only thing the City Council is entertaining is the rezoning of homes that had been zoned commercial to be returned to the R-8 zone. That vote will happen Tuesday.
One of those homes is just north of the development and was purchased by the developer in the hope he would be able to use it as an access point. The idea has been squelched by UDOT.
As for the traffic, Councilwoman Debby Lauret met with Clark to get some of her own questions answered.
Lauret noted they expect about 530 trips a day when the development is finished. She compared that to other numbers. For instance, a 1,000-square-foot food place has about 471 trips a day, and a convenience store about 762 trips a day. The 530 trips didn’t concern her.
For all intents and purposes members of the city council will not see the application, nor can they vote against it.
“All the State Street Master Plan was to do was make State Street beautiful with single-family neighborhoods protected,” Lauret said.
Lauret added the council is sensitive to the traffic and parking issues, but landscaped townhomes across from single-family homes seem to be a better buffer than a Hawiian Shave Ice shack and a used car lot.