Spanish Fork celebrates a step forward in large development 04

The Wasatch rises behind a ribbon cutting of a new section of roads, Canyon Creek Parkway and Market Place Drive, where a new hospital will be built and a Walmart is opening next week, in Spanish Fork on Thursday, March 5, 2015. The project will later work to connect south Utah County cities to one another while developing the area between Springville and Spanish Fork heavily. GRANT HINDSLEY, Daily Herald

The Spanish Fork City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve zoning map and General Plan amendments that will create new mixed use and neighborhood commercial zones.

The General Plan change will turn a public facilities zone east of U.S. Highway 6 into a mixed-use zone. Public facilities zones in the city are used for services “necessary for the efficient function of the local community,” such as cemeteries, libraries and court buildings, while mixed-use zones are designated for “a mix of limited residential, retail, personal services business services and office uses.”

As for the zoning map, rural residential zoning off of Spanish Fork Parkway will become neighborhood commercial zoning, uses for which include convenience stores, child care centers, financial institutions, municipal facilities and restaurants.

The council originally considered changing the rural residential zone to a general commercial zone, which could be used for larger-scale commercial projects like event centers, hotels and private clubs, as well as for uses allowed in neighborhood commercial zones.

Some Spanish Fork residents raised concerns at Tuesday’s meeting that establishing a general commercial zone would lead to greater expansion in the future, undermining the rural appeal of the city.

“My biggest concern is the precedent that it will set for future development needs,” Spanish Fork resident Rachel Heath said about the potential general commercial zone.

Another concern Heath had with commercial development at the Spanish Fork Parkway and U.S. 6 intersection is that it will cause increased traffic and crashes in the already busy area.

Councilman Keir Scoubes said commercial development of fast food chains and restaurants could decrease traffic by giving high school students lunch options closer to schools. “(Commercial development) would make it so these kids are not in a rush to get out onto the highway,” Scoubes said. “It would slow traffic down.”

Lt. Matt Johnson, of the Spanish Fork Police Department, presented traffic accident data showing that there have been 100 accidents on Spanish Fork Parkway since January 2006, adding that the Utah Department of Transportation has made “significant improvements” to safety by installing warning lights and left turn-only lanes.

Responding to resident concerns that building more convenience stores and gas stations would lead to increased crime and robberies, Johnson said there have only been three gas station robberies in Spanish Fork since 2006, one of which was an attempted aggravated carjacking in the parking lot.

Heath said she supported changing the zone to neighborhood commercial as opposed to general commercial, but that she is concerned about future development in the city.

“I don’t want to be that house that, if Spanish Fork Parkway needs to become a four-way highway, that you have to buy ... in 20 or 30 years and tear it down to widen the road,” Heath said.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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