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  • Writer's pictureScott Phillips

Council Meeting - October 18, 2022

Our first item of discussion during the work meeting was a potential MDA (Master Development Agreement) for six acres located at approximately 1300 East Center Street. This is near the area where the new temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will be constructed. The proposed development is called Temple Cove and would be a community geared toward retirees (with plenty of open space to share with the neighbors).

The most impressive part of this presentation was that all of the neighbors who border the property were there to give their thoughts on this potential project. It seems every neighbor believes that this is going to be the best use of the land bordering their homes. In my 10 months on the council, I have never seen this happen. What an excellent demonstration of collaboration. The developer is not trying to squeeze every potential unit out of this property. There is more focus on quality construction and materials. This was well-received by the council, so I’m confident that we will see an MDA proposal in the future.

The next proposal was for the potential College Downs annexation. This property is close to the UVU Wasatch campus. In the property concept, there have been considerations for the master transportation plan. The buildings include multi-unit housing, two commercial pads, a hotel with a footprint of 11,000 square feet, and plenty of parking. This was another impressive example of a developer collaborating with neighbors. There have been many discussions with the UVU campus in an effort to gauge what they deem acceptable as a neighboring property. We have seen this concept change and evolve over the last several months, and I believe things will soon start moving towards annexation.

The next item on the agenda was the new Wasatch County School District High School site. The materials for this action item alone were 569 pages. That’s a lot of reading! The initial development concept looked much like the existing high school with fields and parking to the west, but the concept has changed over time, resulting in a truly beautiful campus. There is a creek or stream that runs right through the middle of the property. The plan would be to build the high school on one side of that stream, leaving the stream open with a buffer zone, walking path, and bridge that crosses the area to the west to access the football stadium and baseball fields. The new concept is very thoughtful and well-planned. Another new development is that MTECH (Mountainland Technical College) is negotiating the purchase of the neighboring property. This was a property of concern because it would create a peninsula in the annexation agreement. MTECH is looking to build a campus very close to the high school, allowing students to walk to their facility to take classes intermittently during the day. This is a brilliant idea. I applaud the school board for their creativity in providing more educational opportunities to the students. Although the new high school has also been a controversial topic in the community, the numbers don’t lie. Our current high school is above capacity. We owe it to the children of this valley to make sure they have the best opportunity to succeed in their education. I am not a member of the school board, so I do not have a vote pertaining to the construction of new schools. However, as this annexation request falls within an area of the master plan that was slated for one unit per five acres as far as density, the high school fits well in that location. Although I don’t have the authority to vote for education, I do have the authority to vote for annexation. I hope to eventually see these plans up for a vote before the council. Before that happens, there will be a public hearing to assist us in determining our final action.

The last item on the work agenda was to consider approval for the adoption of proposed governing rules regarding media presence and participation during city council meetings. We had an instance earlier this year where there were cameras in the city council chambers during a meeting, and one of those cameras was between the speaker at the podium and the council. This was deemed inappropriate by City Attorney Mark Smedley. These rules were adopted Tuesday night with a vote of the council.

Our regular meeting opened with a continuous stream of people arriving to hear more on the topic of the airport. As always, we began the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer or thought. Our prayer for the evening was given by Mayor Heidi Franco. In the disclosure of conflict of interest, there was only one. Yvonne Barney needed to recuse herself from the discussion pertaining to her husband being named a member of the audit committee for the city. The consent agenda included approval of the September 20, 2022 council meeting minutes, October 4, 2022 council meeting minutes, and approval of appointments of Shane Edwards, Ben Probst, and R. Scott Holbrook to the audit committee as recommended by Mayor Franco. Plus, approval of the appointment of Shauna Bennett to the Historical Preservation Board, and adoption of ordinance 2022–28 approving proposed amendments to chapter 18.1101–1 industrial zone and telecommunication facilities. These were all accepted with one vote. The first action item on the agenda was to approve the appointment of Del Barney to the audit committee as recommended by Mayor Franco. Yvonne recused herself from this item, but it was voted on and passed 4-0.

As you’d expect, the biggest item of the night was discussion on the airport master plan and litigation settlement. I fully addressed this in another newsletter, so I will not revisit it here. After the airport item, I requested a five minute recess to allow individuals in attendance for that topic to depart. It was certainly a very emotional and physically demanding discussion.

Moving along, the next action item was another one of importance. I believe I’ve previously discussed the plans to build a Smith’s Marketplace to the north of the existing Smiths in Heber city. As part of the construction of the Smith’s Marketplace, there is an infrastructure participation agreement. This allows us to identify the scope of offsite improvements required by the city for the project, as well as our economic participation and upsizing/reimbursement requests. The benefits of the infrastructure participation agreement are many.

First, there’s a firm completion date for Segment A of the eastern bypass, which includes signalization of Highway 40 at 900 N. by July 1, 2024. Second, the marketplace will consist of 132,000 square feet and construction will commence in the fourth quarter of 2022. This requires substantial completion of 900 N. before Smith’s will be issued a certificate of occupancy and reimbursement for roadway participation costs. Substantial completion of 900 N. is also required prior to the city issuing building permits for developers of multi-family developments. Another benefit is the maximization of economic development opportunities by committing to a construction timeline that commences in the fourth quarter of 2022. We are able to widen 900 N. from 72 feet to 81 feet to meet the city’s goals for the eastern bypass corridor and require Valley Hills (the developer) to design, build, and assume all liability for regional stormwater facilities. The cost summary of the roadway improvement costs, utility upsizing cost, and land cost is approximately $1.9 million. The city plans to pay for this with funds from the capital project fund, street impact fees, park impact fees, various grants, water impact fees, and pressurized irrigation impact fees.

What does all of that mean? This eastern bypass road is a two-lane road that will connect Highway 40 north of Smith’s to Center Street west of Red Ledges. I’m really looking forward to an official name for this road. This is not to be confused with the bypass road being considered by UDOT on the western side of town. The bypass road on the western side of town would be the rerouting of Highway 40 around Heber City from approximately 1300 S. with several potential entry points north of town back into the Highway 40 corridor. This eastern road is an important road pertaining to our transportation plan. Center Street continues to get busier as more homes are being constructed on the east side of town. This road will hopefully alleviate some of the traffic burdening those residents who live along Center Street. I look forward to having conversations with residents in this area as we seek out ways to make this the best experience possible given the circumstances. As I understand it, the developer will be building section A using city funds for the up-sizing of the road and the infrastructure with their construction teams and engineers. The city is in charge of section B, and Red Ledges has committed to building section C of this road. Looking ahead, I believe the plan is for the full route to be completed by 2024. We did vote on this issue during the meeting and approved the infrastructure participation agreement with Valley Hills, LLC.

There was another item on the agenda pertaining to the North Village annexation and accompanying MDAs. As you may recall, this annexation is for separate properties in four separate projects seeking MDAs north of town near the UVU campus. We actually pushed this item out for two weeks as the staff has been working feverishly on many projects. We want to ensure that they have everything they need before we proceed with a decision on the annexation of these properties.

The next item was to consider approval of recommendations to address traffic safety concerns at the 500 E. and 1200 S. intersection and at the railroad crossing on Southfield Road. Our engineer, Russell Funk did a great job once again. The traffic study of that intersection next to the library, high school, and hospital, demonstrated that something must be done. If we don’t, the intersection will fail, especially at high traffic times before and after school. The best option to control traffic is a roundabout, which would be the largest roundabout in the city. It would contain two lanes going each way east and west and one lane going each way north and south. This would be a large and expensive undertaking as we would have to acquire land from the property owners on all four corners of that intersection. Adding a stoplight to the intersection creates better potential as we move into the near future, allowing for safe crossings from the assisted living center, library, high school, and hospital. It’s not the most efficient option for the future as traffic will eventually be worse than it is now, but it is an option that is less expensive and can be implemented in a timely manner. One of the benefits of this light is that the 1200 S. lights will remain green consistently unless a car approaches 1200 S. from 500 E. This will then trigger a sensor to change the light to allow cars to proceed safely as it stopped traffic on 1200 S. This is key as it was a concern for me to keep traffic moving on 1200 S. during times of light traffic. Ryan Stack was in favor of saving money to acquire the land and build the roundabout since that will be the best long-term option. He was the only “no” vote on the topic, and I fully respect and appreciate his opinion, especially as it pertains to maintaining that “small town” feeling. My disagreement on the roundabout mainly pertains to persons wanting to cross the street. A roundabout makes it very difficult for pedestrians to cross safely. The vote on this topic was 4-1, so you should be seeing a new stoplight at 500 E. and 1200 S. shortly.

The last action item was to discuss our meeting minutes format and determine a preferred format for the future. Utah has changed the law pertaining to minutes as with modern technology all meetings are recorded, which serves as a full record of the meeting. We approved the motion 5-0 that minutes can be taken as necessary pertaining to Utah code. Taking exact minutes has been a burden for staff for quite some time. We are hoping to alleviate that burden when we have the technology to do so.

There was a lot to consider in this meeting, and as always, we ran over the allotted time. I pulled into my house at about midnight and had to take a walk around the block to ponder all of the issues our city is facing. I looked at the stars, enjoyed the cool air, and tried to let my body unwind from the events of the day. We must remember and continually consider that in every decision we make there are individuals who are impacted on both sides of the equation. Whether it’s approval of a subdivision or a new road, these choices can be difficult and emotional. I hope we never lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with individual lives, not objects. Let’s try to look at each other as people trying to do the best we can. I want to hear complaints and opinions to gain a better understanding, but there is so much more that can be accomplished through collaboration. We must seek out every opportunity for the thoughtful exchange of ideas rather than attacking, name-calling, or finger-pointing.

Kind regards,

D. Scott Phillips

Heber City Council

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