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Another mink farm gone? Commissioners diverge on density bonus and open space in west Lehi

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Five of the nine members (including alternates) of the Lehi City Planning Commission met on Thursday evening, October 14, in Council Chambers. Edge Homes’ request for review of the River Point Concept, a 529-unit residential development at 1100 North 3600 West dominated most of the meeting as commissioners discussed the value of density bonus versus widening 3600 West.

“I read in the comments that widening 3600 West will be funded by the state, that it’s on the MAG priorities list,” said Commission Chair Abram Nielsen, referring to the Mountainland Association of Governments. “Why would we have Edge pay for it?”

Lehi City engineer Ross Dinsdale explained that widening 3600 West is not a project the city has submitted to MAG. The city estimates the project will cost $1 million.

“I’m all for density bonuses when it saves the taxpayer money, but 30 more units in exchange for widening the road is a lot,” said Commissioner Heather Newall. She referred to X Development’s recent trade of one more building lot in exchange for X Development constructing a road accessing 2100 North from their development.

Dinsdale reminded the commissioners, “It’s discretionary. Ultimately it’s up to the City Council.”

“That includes the trail system,” added Mike West from the Lehi City Planning Department. “As a rule, trails cost about $1 million per mile.”

“For some, this project is a sweet moment in time and for othersit’s bitter. About 60,000 mink have been removed for this development,” began Brandon Watson from Edge Homes. “3600 West divides this project into the east and west halves. The road on the Master Transportation Plan is 102-feet wide, it’s a major arterial road. The $1 million estimate is on the very low end. The city is getting a bargain by having us widen the road and develop more than a mile of trails.”

Watson estimated that 25% of the more than 100 acres in the River Point Concept is open space. 

“That open space is remnants throughout the development, which I can understand because it’s a large development, but there’s only one playground by the pool and the rest is trails?” asked Newall.

Watson agreed that most of the open space was in the trails and the rest were pocket parks. “With that many units, kids need places to play. I’m concerned about children playing under the power lines on the trail,” Newall continued.

“There is no issue under those power lines. You have more serious challenges with EMF standing under a microwave or a photocopy machine. I personally think that taking powerline corridors and turning them into something that’s useful space is a great idea,” said Commissioner Scott Bunker. Bunker works for a power company.

“I’m only calculating 15% open space. That’s still more than the 10% requirement, but where are you getting 25%?” asked Commissioner Nielsen.

Watson explained that 12 acres of flood plain was part of the open space. “So half of your open space is wetlands no one can use?” asked Commissioner Emily Britton. 

“Yes. If it’s 15% it’s still more than the 10% requirement,” Watson responded.

Commissioner Nielsen read in the Development Code the purpose of a Planned Unit Development (PUD), including “a harmonious grouping of attractive buildings situated on spacious surroundings” and “the grouping of open spaces.”

“The open space is always the leftover remnants. Units are supposed to front the open space and in this concept four out of 529 units front open space,” Nielsen said. “You’ve turned your back to the Jordan River instead of providing access to it. It’s disappointing to see we aren’t taking advantage of the river. But it meets code, so what do you do?”

“There’s a lot of things they could do with the open space. They might have to lose a few units, but it would be for the betterment of the neighborhood, the livability and the sustainability of the place,” Nielsen continued. “You lose six of those home lots and it becomes a nice park.”

“I don’t think 30 units on top of 499 is a big deal here with the trails they’ll be providing. Single family homes will have yards. I like the mix here – Lehi needs more housing options,” countered Commissioner Bunker. “Developers design exactly what we ask for in the code and then we’re disappointed that it’s not like Daybreak. Maybe we need to look at the code and change it to be what we really want.”

The motion to recommend approval of Edge Homes River Point concept plan to the City Council did not pass with a vote of three to two. Commissioners Nielsen and Britton voted no. The recommendation to City Council, then, is negative.

The Lehi City Planning Commission gave positive recommendations to the following items during their Oct. 14 meeting:- Lance Jones’ request for conditional use approval for Redline Machine Utah, an auto service and repair company at 1550 North State Street.- Jacob Hansen’s request for a flag lot for JJR Tennis Club at 2029 West 900 North.- DR Horton’s request for preliminary subdivision review of Cold Springs Ranch HD3, a 55-unit residential development at 4000 West Orinda Drive.- Oscar Salomon’s request for review of R-1-22 (residential/agriculture) zoning for 1.05 acres at 736 South 300 West.- Mark Hampton’s request for review of the Lehi Brownstones zone change at 396 North 500 West from R-2 (medium density residential) to R-3 (high density residential) on .42 acres.- Lehi City’s request for review of a Development Code amendment to Chapters 1-10 of the Lehi City Development Code.

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