The Lehi City Planning Commission met on Thursday, August 12, and reviewed requests from residents, developers and the city. At the conclusion of the meeting, Commissioner Matt Hemmert announced his resignation from the Planning Commission after serving for more than seven years. Hemmert urged his fellow commissioners to “keep loading their motions with findings of fact” to prevent future ambiguities. He was particularly passionate about Lehi City’s request to change the zoning on 4.29 acres at 600 East and Airport Drive, part of the Thomas J. Peck Family Park.
“You’re breaking my heart. That’s the best overview in Lehi,” said Hemmert. The zone change would allow for seven to eight single family home lots on the east side of Family Park. Lehi City intends to sell the future lots to pay for the land acquisition from the Jensen family that was approved by the City Council in March 2021. The land acquisition took place to connect 600 East between Airport Drive and Dry Creek. “When has the city really gotten into residential development?” Hemmert continued.
Lehi City engineer Ross Dinsdale explained that Loren Powell brokered a deal with the Peck family to buy the last two pieces they owned in the northeast portion of Family Park. “The thought was to offset the cost of purchasing the land and so we’d be able to expand the park,” said Dinsdale.
“You’re turning an amenity into a money-making opportunity. For 15 years I’ve taken my kids up there to watch fireworks. I don’t like the City being involved in residential development. I think this stinks, to be honest,” answered Hemmert.
“I think this goes back to Mayor Johnson’s take that we need to get creative in how we fund parks. This is part of that, it was presented as a way to fund Family Park,” said Commissioner Tyson Eyre.
“It might be interesting to take some Lehi City land that is less desirable that could be developed and keep this as a park. Just because it’s funding this park doesn’t mean the homes have to be right next to it,” suggested Commissioner Heather Newall.
“I wonder if we could have fewer lots with the price of land now,” offered Commissioner Brent Everett.
“I live down the street from here and this is a travesty, but I don’t see how we can find a reason to deny it,” said Commissioner Scott Bunker.
Kim Struthers, Lehi City’s Community Development Director, reminded the commissioners they had the power to make a recommendation to the City Council.
“This is a regional park; some people have called it Lehi’s Central Park. If a large overlook is a plus to that park and if it’s attracting users, why not look at other properties the City owns to pay for it? Or be more creative in a solution to funding the park,” said Commission Chair Abram Nielsen.
Commissioner Hemmert made a motion to give a negative recommendation to the City Council on Lehi City’s request for a zone change from TH-5 (Transitional Holding) to LDR (Low Density Residential) on the 4.29 acres at 600 East and Airport Drive. The motion for a negative recommendation passed with a vote of four to two. (The commissioners did not have a vote roll call and it was unclear which commissioners voted for and against the motion.)
Kraig Johnson came to the August 12 Planning Commission meeting to request an amendment to the General Plan to allow him to develop four acres of his land at 3333 West 1500 North to HDR (High Density Residential) and Neighborhood Commercial.
“I sold two of those acres to the city in 2018 under threat of imminent domain. I don’t have any density on those two acres. I asked twice to exchange the High Density to a different part of my property, but I got a ‘no’ from the city,” Johnson explained.
“I want assurances from staff that we’re not overburdening the system with High Density right there,” said Commissioner Nielsen.
“I’m concerned that staff put in the report that they don’t recommend High Density because of the overload. I know property rights and allowing people to develop their land the way they’d like is a big deal, but at some point, this starts to infringe on other people’s property rights,” said Commissioner Newall. “Later down the line others won’t be able to develop their land at the density it’s zoned for if we approve this now.” Newall also urged that the commission be consistent in allowing density exchanges to citizens and developers alike.
“I’d like to know what the City’s side is. We’re talking to a citizen who has been told what would happen with his land. We can talk about how imminent domain didn’t go into effect with him, but that’s not a negotiation on free market principles when you’re told, ‘You can sell it to us or we can take it from you,’” added Commissioner Greg Jackson.
“It bothers me that we’re going to tell the little guy no on High Density, but for Ivory Development at Holbrook Farms it’s fine,” Jackson continued.
Struthers explained that Johnson was paid fair market value for the land in question and there was never anything in writing about swapping density to another part of his land. Dinsdale added that the City has the capacity to support High Density on the acreage, but that it could affect future capacity in the area.
A motion was made to give Kraig Johnson’s request for an amendment to the General Plan a positive recommendation to the City Council and it passed five votes to one. Commissioner Brent Everett voted no.
The following items were approved or given positive recommendations to the City Council at the August 12 Planning Commission meeting:
– Lotus Company’s request for preliminary subdivision review of a 35-unit townhome PUD project at 225 S 600 E.
– Gardner Company’s request for conditional use approval for the Cold Springs Storage Site Plan at Orinda Drive and Blue Sky Road.- Patterson Homes’ requests for review of the Longhorn Meadows zone change at 400 S 1300 West from TH-5 (transitional holding) to R-1-Flex (residential) and a 15-lot subdivision on the property.
– Patterson Homes’ request for review of the Sunset Meadows Plat B Concept, a 3-lot residential subdivision at 1980 West Snow Springs Drive.
– Mark Hampton’s request for review of the Lehi Brownstones Concept, a 7-unit townhome project at 396 N 500 W.
– Lehi City’s request for review of an amendment to Chapter 26 of the Development Code amending the ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) ordinance to comply with State Legislation.