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Residents rebel against commercial development in North Lehi

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All Lehi City Planning Commission members attended September’s first meeting, where they heard from several residents and presenter Jeff Southard on a commercial development at the corner of 1200 West and 3200 North.

Jeff Southard proposed the “Bellaview Place Concept Plan,”which included five separate retail areas, four of which included vehicle drive-thrus. Southard’s design had areas labeled “walkable neighborhood commercial center theme,” suggesting pedestrian travel throughout the site. In the City’s analysis, however, staff did not accept that the intent or requirements of the Code for pedestrian connectivity were met in Southard’s design.

“The Code requires including sidewalk connections to the neighborhood,” read the Lehi City report. “The site could also improve with enhanced pedestrian features such as plaza space. This site’s location, surrounded by existing residential, creates a great opportunity to create a destination for people to walk to and spend time in this space. Even though only a small portion of the site resides in the Neighborhood Commercial zone, the site’s location within a well-established neighborhood should dictate the layout and function of this space.”

“Belleview [Assisted Living and Memory Care] is zoned commercial, but it’s really more Neighborhood Commercial,” said Derek Owens, a resident who lives near the proposed development. “In my opinion, making that property Commercial is a blatant disregard to the General Plan since it is surrounded by Very Low-Density Residential zoning. If the Planning Commission fails to enforce the General Plan here and changes that zoning to any kind of Commercial, I’m going to lay down in front of the bulldozers – I’m going to raise hell.”

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“Please don’t make any exceptions to code. Don’t make it easier for businesses to come in where kids are walking to school,” added resident, Mike Shriner. “I know the area was supposed to be Commercial originally in the General Plan, but it’s just not anymore. Whatever was intended originally, it’s literally surrounded by homes now.”

Commission Chair Abram Nielsen suggested that Southard make the retention basin green infrastructure. “You could use that as a park where kids could play while people eat. It could be another access point to your development,” he said.

“The problem is we don’t get breaks on parking requirements by making it more walkable,” Southard responded, admitting that the development is “over parked.”

“This concept plan feels a lot like the commercial development north of the Park & Ride next to I-15 – that’s what it reminds me of,” said Alternate Commissioner Emily Britton, noting that she would not be voting on the agenda item. “I think the developer can do better.” 

Britton’s comment drew applause from residents in the room.

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“We don’t have a lot of wiggle room here because it is zoned Commercial,” said Commissioner Heather Newall. “We’re limited on what we can say goes in here, but we do have exceptions.” 

The motion to give final approval to Southard’s Belleview Place Concept Plan included many exceptions based on the public hearing and discussion from the commissioners. The motion passed five to two, with Commissioners Brent Everett and Scott Bunker voting “no.”

The following items were also given positive recommendations or approval at the September 8 Planning Commission meeting:

– Greg Steffensen’s request for approval of the Hangar 15 Site Plan.

– Dominion Energy’s request for conditional use approval of a regulator station at 7500 West 8020 North.

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– Lehi City’s request for the Downtown Civic Campus zone change on various City-owned properties changing the zoning from R-3 (high-density residential) and Mixed-Use to Public Facility.

– Lehi City’s request for a change to the Development Code Amendment Table 05-030 C adding Portable Storage Containers as a permitted use in the Public Facility zone.

– Lehi City’s request for an amendment to the Design Standards and Public Improvements Specifications Manual Section 3.09 Fire Department Access, amending the requirements to provide emergency access to construction sites.

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