Heber City Council denies request to increase development’s density
A developer said his project could fall through because the Heber City Council wants to limit the number of homes near the Utah Valley University Wasatch campus. Councilmembers said they’re willing to think outside the box but stood firm on the housing density limit.
Wright Development Group wants to build a housing development on a 20-acre parcel of land near the Utah Valley University Wasatch campus.
Years ago, county government granted permission to develop homes on the land. But if the land is annexed into Heber City, the developer can use the city sewer system and other city services at its buildings.
Heber City Council members said they would only allow a little over half the density Wasatch County promised, according to numbers presented in a staff report at Tuesday’s council meeting.
The developer asked for permission to build 220 homes, 24 apartments and a hotel if the land is annexed into Heber City. That’s roughly a split between the density the county and city have unofficially approved.
Three of the five council members declined.
Councilmember Rachel Kahler said it’s too many homes on too little land.
“I’m not willing to go up on density,” Kahler said. “I feel like we’ve already put so much density on that mountain. It’s a lot more apartments.”
Wright Development Group’s Logan Johnson told the council his company could not justify the project at the level of density the city council described.
Councilmembers Scott Phillips and Mike Johnston said there could be options to keep density down but keep Wright’s profitability up — namely with commercial space.
Ryan Stack agreed with Kahler and Yvonne Barney that the developer requested too much housing density, especially in light of the thousands of recently approved units in nearby developments. He proposed Wright go back to the drawing board.
“Based on what’s about to be coming online, we have a duty to pump the brakes and not just keep churning out density mindlessly,” Stack said. “That said, I would love to work with you. I support having a hotel here, I support having a transit stop. I think it’s a key piece of property.”
The land is just off U.S. Highway 40 and surrounded by 60 acres that were annexed into Heber City. Developers plan 350 homes and 80,000 square feet of commercial space on that land, according to the staff report at the November 2022 meeting when the council approved the annexation. Surrounding that land are multiple other recently annexed parcels where much more development is planned.
Heber City Manager Matt Brower said on KPCW’s Local News Hour Friday he hopes the developer comes up with a plan that involves less density that the city council would approve. He also said the future of the development and whether the landowner will finalize the annexation are unclear.
“We believe the development should be in Heber City because of the surrounding areas that have already been annexed,” Brower said. “But the developer also has the option of staying in Wasatch County, and so they're considering their options, and we'll see what they do.”
A link to view the meeting in full is available here.