Citizens group opposes development project before Kaysville even approves it

Jul 5 2012 - 11:24pm

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KAYSVILLE -- A proposed 276-unit development in west Kaysville is coming under fire from a citizens group that claims the project would change the nature of the neighborhood and does not meet the city's original general plan as it relates to density.

The 94-acre project, an accumulation of farmland properties, is a joint venture between the Hill family, which owns the land, and Destination Homes of Layton. The property is at Angel Street, 200 North and Phillips Street.

Residents living near the area have created a website, www.keepwestkaysville.com, to share their concerns about the project.

Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt said the group is premature in its opposition because the city council and planning commission have not yet heard the project or recent recommendations by a review committee to make changes to the city's general plan.

One of the key recommendations is to change housing-density allowances. Current allowances in the city are zero to two units per acre. If the changes are adopted, up to four units per acre would be acceptable.

Tina Johnson, who has lived in west Kaysville for eight years and opposes the development, said the project, with 276 homes, would have an average density of 2.92 homes per acre.

"I am not on one side of the issue or the other," Hiatt said, adding that he is confused by the timing of the citizens group's complaint.

"There has been no public hearing yet, but it is being said it has been greased and is ready to go."

No date for a public hearing on the proposed development has been set.

"This development is so out of the range of the general plan that I wondered why they were even presenting such a plan," Johnson said in an email to the Standard-Examiner. "I don't understand why this would fly."

Destination Homes officials do not wish to respond to the recommended changes to the city's general plan, said Targhee Child, with Destination Homes land and product development.

He said the firm will comply with whatever is outlined in the city's general plan, which currently provides some leeway in design and land use.

"The development of the Hill property is to enhance Kaysville. We want to make it one of the best places to live in Kaysville and the state of Utah."

The firm was unaware that a formal group had concerns about the project, Child said, adding that there will always be people who oppose changing land uses.

Destination Homes has not formally presented a design or plan, as it continues to receive input on development principles, Child said.

"We absolutely want good will," he said.

Destination Homes hopes to work with residents to find solutions to their concerns, Child said.

Linda Francis, a resident who served on the 14-member committee that reviewed the city's general plan, said she cast a dissenting vote against increasing the number of living units allowed per acre, but she was outvoted.

Higher-density housing will have an impact on traffic on Angel Street and 200 North, Francis said, while possibly creating issues with safety and city services.

She said she is confident this housing development was in the works before the committee was formed and is one of the reasons the general plan needed updating.

"After seeing the development agreement (for the proposed residential development), I felt like there was a cart before the horse."

Hiatt denies Francis' claims about the timing of the general plan review. The decision to review the general plan was in motion well before the proposed development was talked about, he said.

The city's general plan is often revisited, Hiatt said, and any insinuation that the general plan is being changed to accommodate a developer is simply not true.

"If there was a genuine intent to accommodate a developer, we wouldn't have put members on the committee that have been vocal against development in the past," said Hiatt, who appointed the committee based on those who applied.

Mike Ostermiller, a west Kaysville resident who also served on the general plan review committee, supports the mayor's position.

"That proposed change (units per acre) was not made for Destination Homes," he said.

Increased density was recommended to provide developers with flexibility in clustering homes and creating more open space for amenities like pocket parks and trails.

The opposition to the project is premature, Ostermiller said, adding, "Let's wait. Let's watch and see what Destination Homes wants to do."

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