The Spanish Fork City Council voted after a public hearing on Tuesday to approve an ordinance to change an industrial zone to residential to make way for an incoming townhome development.

The property in question is located at 800 W. Del Monte Road, an approximately 6-acre lot where the Spanish Fork-based Arive Homes is planning on building dozens of townhomes.

Dean Ingram, co-owner of Arive Homes, told the city council that the property, which is in close proximity to Riverview Elementary and the American Leadership Academy, would be better zoned as residential than industrial, noting that industrial uses include building automotive repair shops and office buildings.

“The one good thing about this thing being residential is you know who the people are,” Ingram said. “They’re going to be the people in your neighborhood, they’re going to be the people going to the local congregation possibly, and you’re going to get to know them. And it’s a little easier to confront any issues you may have possibly with them than it is trying to tackle a business that is trying to run a business. So I do think that makes it a better choice to go residential than anything else.”

But a dozen Spanish Fork residents, including a handful of parents, voiced concern with building townhomes in the area, noting that the connecting roads are already congested and arguing that increased density would be dangerous for children.

“It’s going to increase exponentially the concern that I have, and I believe many of my neighbors for the safety of our kids,” said Nathaniel Goff, who lives near the proposed development. “They’re playing in the streets every single day of the week, regardless of many times we tell them to stay out of the road. It’s only a matter of time, I fear, until one of those children is struck by a car.”

Cami Hansen, whose kids attend Riverview Elementary, said her kids do not walk to school because there is no crosswalk or safe route to do so.

Ingram noted that, as part of the proposal, Arive Home would “be providing a large financial contribution” to ensure that Del Monte Road be widened and that a roundabout be built to improve flow to and from the nearby charter school.

“I’m more than willing to work with engineering on whatever comes up to do the best I can to limit the traffic and different things that cause a concern of the neighbors with safety,” he said.

City Manager Seth Perrins said that safety and traffic concerns in the area were “really not associated with this development.”

“All of the problems that I think we’ve heard (from concerned residents) today are problems that exist today,” Perrins said.

The Spanish Fork Development Review Committee reviewed the proposed zone change on April 29 and recommended it be approved, while the Planning Commission recommended on June 3 that it be denied due to density concerns, according to Community and Economic Development Director Dave Anderson.

Councilmember Mike Mendenhall, who disclosed during Tuesday’s meeting that Ingram “has been a client of mine in the financial world for 15 years” but emphasized that the business relationship would not influence his vote, made a motion to approve the ordinance to change the zoning designation “with the direction to have staff initiate a general plan review for the rest of this area that involves ALA and the traffic in the area.”

The motion passed narrowly on a 3-2 vote, with Councilmember Keir Scoubes explaining his yes vote by saying “the roads aren’t going to improve until development gets there to build and widen the roads.”

Mayor Steve Leifson said he felt like there was a “not in my backyard mentality” among those opposed to the zoning change and development project, adding that he remembered years ago when Spanish Fork residents were “pretty passionate” about opposing the construction of a now-popular Costco in the city.

“We like it, but not in my backyard,” the mayor said. “It doesn’t matter where it goes, it’s always going to be in somebody’s backyard.”

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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