Knowing where people will live in Provo’s future, what they will live in, and how infrastructure and developers fees will play into building it all melded together in a lengthy discussion Tuesday at a Municipal Council work session.
The first topic out of the chute was a follow-up discussion on community development fees and how the city can recoup some, if not all, of its subsidized fees to developers.
Councilman David Harding’s hope is fees will be charged to match what it costs the city.
“We’re not recovering what we’re putting into it,” said Gary McGinn, director of the community services department. “The council is the best one to determine if there needs to be a 100 percent recovery.”
In looking at raising fees, even the proposed 20 percent, council members wanted to make sure they would still be charging less than Orem’s fees and be competitive with other cities in the county and state.
The community services fee structure is just another in a line of several fees in different departments that are subsidized by the taxpayer and are not 100 percent recouped. Earlier this year the council looked at parks and recreation fees, including the new Provo Recreation Center, and determined it was in the best interest of the public to not raise entrance and other fees.
Council Chairman Kim Santiago noted the process of looking at subsidies started about two years ago.
“Our initial goal was to look and see if what we’re doing makes sense,” Santiago said. “We wanted to make sure we were being efficient.”
With the length of time it is taking to go through all the fees in all the departments, Councilman George Stewart said he was not willing to look at them anymore if the council was not willing to raise them.
“We wouldn’t want to be higher than Orem,” said Councilman David Knecht, a sentiment also voiced by Stewart.
The rest of the work session dealt with the other side of city development — the actual building up of neighborhoods on the west side of Provo.
Harding led off with a presentation on the Southwest Neighborhood Plan that included engineering information related to traffic issues.
Housing needs and wants are changing throughout the country, and according to Harding’s presentation Provo needs to be aware there are needs for more than just single, detached family homes on a quarter-acre lot.
Harding is hoping the city and council will keep a vision on the diversity options in developments and in developing the west side.
“I hope we consider the market demand,” Harding said. “There is a lot that can happen.”
During a PowerPoint presentation Harding discussed the various types of neighborhoods with mixed housing, and how all housing types ebb and flow out of a type of activity center, be it a school, shopping center or city offices.
That led to the discussion of what the west side of the city will look like in the future. For some there is hope it remains agricultural, while others want homes, which in turn could bring businesses such as grocery stores to the west side.
There are four or five developments in various stages of planning on the west side, including the 1,157-unit Broadview Shores.
With nearly four hours of discussion the topics of future growth, the cost of infrastructure, recouping costs and what the future neighborhoods will look like continue to permeate the discussion. Added to that are concerns about the floodplains and past history of flooding in the southwest areas around the new Lakeview Parkway east of the Provo Airport.
The new Provo High School will be built further north, just south of the Broadview development.
To start the housing ball rolling, the council has been asked to approve the city turning over approximately four acres to the Redevelopment Agency. The city would then work in partnership with a developer to build the first pocket neighborhood in Provo.
The hope is construction would begin within this year and be ready for the Parade of Homes in June 2017.
During a zoning summit last fall, Ross Chapin, an expert in pocket neighborhood design, spoke to city officials about the options Provo might have in developing these types of neighborhoods.
Pocket neighborhoods are catching on throughout the country, and particularly in the northwest where Chapin lives. He will be in Provo in April to work as an advisor on the project.
The new pocket neighborhood would be located west of Interstate 15 across from the Provo Towne Centre Mall, at 1500 South and 400 West. It would feature detached and attached homes with two-car garages, a community garden and a green commons area.
The homes would be between 1,000 and 1,800 square feet, with sale prices beginning in the $180,000 range.
Mayor John Curtis asked for a thumbs-up on the project from the council and Stewart immediately motioned for it.
The council’s Ad Hoc Housing Committee will also weigh in. Councilman Kay Van Buren presented its mission statement that included determining market demand for housing, best types and locations to meet demand.
It was suggested that Community Development look at various market studies or even commission one that will take an in-depth look at housing trends to help plan for the next 30 to 50 years in Provo.