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Heber planning commission recommends zone change to allow more housing downtown

A zoning map shows the property on Center Street the Heber City Planning Commission discussed.
A zoning map shows the property on Center Street the Heber City Planning Commission discussed.

The Heber City Planning Commission narrowly voted to recommend a zone change allowing more density on a property near the center of downtown.

Despite some neighbors’ concerns about higher-density housing in downtown Heber, the planning commission says it’s in favor of a zone change for a single-home property to permit apartments there in the future.

The property on West Center Street could be home to apartments or commercial use if the city council approves it to be rezoned, but no applications for new development have been submitted at this point.

At a public hearing about the proposal last month, some neighbors told the planning commission they don’t want the change.

Cally Leatham, who has lived adjacent to the property for decades, said she’s anxious about the potential changes.

“My backyard would be a four-story apartment building overlooking my beautiful backyard, and I just don’t understand what we can do to stop this, because it’s not fair,” she said. “I don’t know what we’ll do.”

And Laura Martindale, who grew up in the neighborhood, said while she understands Heber is changing, she worries about destroying the city’s history with new developments.

“When you make this change, how much more do you just keep cutting into it before those pioneer homes are nothing?” she asked the commission. “They are the base of Heber.”

The planning commission didn’t make any decisions after the public hearing. Instead, it discussed the proposal again at the meeting April 23.

Tanner Riedel, representing the property owners, said the size of the land means any development can’t be too large or too tall.

“We have no intention of going four stories or even three,” he said. “The lot is only a half acre, so we’re not going to be able to fit more than two stories on it.”

Some planning commissioners thought the change would be spot zoning, while others argued it’s in line with the city’s long-term goals for more mixed-use development in downtown Heber.

Eventually, the commission decided to recommend the city council approve the zoning change with the added requirement that no development over three stories be allowed on the site. That motion passed with a 3-2 vote.

Now, the planning commission’s recommendation will go to the Heber City Council for a final decision.