Historic Lehi Main Street, in many ways, represents the problems communities face across this nation. Sure, issues vary, but the reasons are the same; naive or crooked public officials and self-serving speculators look to make a buck at the community’s expense. Whatever the responsible individual’s motives, the result is the same; public officials don’t invest the time or effort to demand all developers submit complete and detailed business plans and architectural drawings that will yield a quality project for both the community and the developer.
For the most part, Lehi officials are using the Honor System. The Honor System only works if the participants have honor. Shady speculators look for a system like this because it’s easy to build inadequate facilities with little or no oversight or penalties. You see it happening from Historic Lehi Main Street, Utah, all the way up to the Federal Government. The people we elect or get appointed to serve our best interests allow us, the taxpaying citizenry, to be sold out for a few bucks.
Lehi invested time, money, and citizen input in developing building standards for the Lehi Historic Main Street core. In February 2017, Lehi spent $80,000 for Landmark Design Team to develop a Downtown Revitalization Plan that is good for the city and the citizens. The recommendations were incorporated into the Chapter 37 Design Standards document to drive all development decisions before the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council. This document is consistently not respected.
New construction and remodeling in the Historic District must adhere to specific design standards; 37.B.1.b.v.1 states explicitly, ‘Buildings shall be constructed with brick as the primary exterior building material. Products simulating brick shall not be used as an exterior material.’ Lehi Vision Care and the new Lehi City police building are examples that respect the community. The Domino’s Pizza remodel is an example of a building that Lehi Planning and the City Council willingly allowed to disrespect the community and design standards.
Lehi City must take responsibility for representing the wishes of the community and not just developers. Real efforts to solicit community input must be enforced before a project comes before the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council. Developers must be required to complete due diligence before any approvals are granted. Core documents that developers must include, at their own expense, are:
1. Accurate architectural rendering of the project that follows Chapter 37 Design Standards.
2. Parking analysis and impact on surrounding businesses and residences.
3. Project timeline from demolition to completion.
4. Survey of Business owners, landowners, and residents within a two-block radius of the proposed project. The survey must include 75% participation with all feedback separated by positive, negative, and no response.