Heber City's Zoning Decision Draws Controversy; Citizen's Group Wants To Repeal It.
The Heber City Council adopted the North Village Overlay Zone in a 3 to 1 vote in their March 16 meeting. A group of residents wants to overturn the approval through a voter referendum.
KPCW has this report outlining the residents' concerns over the N-VOZ and the new Facebook site, Families for Heber, promoting the zone change.
A group, of Heber and Wasatch County people, has been collecting signatures to put a voter initiative on November's ballot, which would repeal the City Council's vote approving the North Village Overlay Zone code adoption.
Heber City Resident Trudy Simmons is one of the founders of the Friends of Heber Valley Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2732366750426935/
She said the approval of the zone change would allow more density than initially allowed by Wasatch County. She is also concerned about environmental impacts and believes a voter referendum buys more time for further study.
An opposing group on the Facebook page called Families for Heber promotes the passage of the N-VOZ. Simmons said they’re using scare tactics
to encourage residents not to sign the petition. Three thousand signatures are needed by May 23 to qualify for the ballot initiative.
According to their Facebook post, Families for Heber https://www.facebook.com/familiesforheber
hosted a community open-house Monday night to promote the benefits of adopting the N-VOZ and the subsequent development that would be allowed.
"This is kind of a bogus group. They are just a group of developers who are obviously feel very threatened by the citizen's referendum because they've mounted quite an effort to combat the referendum and try to get people not to sign. In fact, they sent out some very misleading material. One of their flyers that they sent out said, if you sign the referendum, this will happen, and there's a stock photo, from who knows where, with hundreds of houses pretty much stacked on top of each other. And then, if you don't sign the referendum, this will happen. And there's a picture of, you know, sort of a babbling brook going through the open countryside."
Simmons said by signing the petition, neither of those things will happen.
"All that will happen if you sign the referendum is that the people of Heber will be given a chance to vote on the zoning code for the North Village in November. It won't cause anything to be built or anything not to be built."
Heber City Council Member Rachel Kahler has posted the developers' names who are behind the Families for Heber group on her Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/KahlerforHeberCouncil/
She provides details outlining the benefits of the N-VOZ, such as open space, density, environmental protection, tax base revenues, and impact on downtown Heber.
The land in question is currently within Wasatch County jurisdiction, but four annexation requests have been submitted to the Heber City Council by landowners and developers.
Heber City Councilmember Mike Johnston said he does not like the misleading social media and PR campaigns by the Families of Heber or the Friends of Heber Valley.
"I did think the flyer was really poorly done. The flyer that was passed out by the Friends of Heber Valley is also misleading and wrong. It shows that the City is granting substantially more density than is currently allowed by the County. It's completely false. Our ERU count is underneath the County's ERU count. The County’s, I think, is 2140, and we're at 2080.
Johnston said increasing density around the college would be a lifeline to keep Utah Valley University in Wasatch County.
"If we can't support them, and they desperately need the support we're offering. And they're so happy about this, but if we can't get this done, there's a very good chance that the whole campus is just going to close, and it'll never come back. It's been 20 years since that come here, and we haven't been able to get it over 300 kids at the highest point. You know we're down to like 80 right now, you know, if we don't want UVU to be there, then the best way to kill it is to do nothing up there."
Johnston said the North Village zoning through the County allows commercial development along the highway and emphasizes high density, mid-rise, and high-rise housing. He said the infrastructure is in place and the water from the Jordanelle reservoir. The voter initiative, if passed, to overturn the N-VOZ would throw the development back to the County.
"The City is planning ahead for this being in the City because the impacts will accrue to the City. So, if the impacts are going to accrue to the City, the benefits and the sales taxes and the property taxes, and the transient room taxes, all of these should also accrue to the City, so we can have synergy with downtown, not a competition with downtown, so we can use best practices and our architectural designs, and our open space requirements and our parks and trails. It all needs to be in the City. Without any input, without any ability to direct how it looks, without any taxes, without any income, we'll just have to deal with it. It'll be our Kimball Junction on the edge of town."
Simmons said if people are interested in helping gather signatures to qualify for the ballot, they should call 435-200-5721. She said the deadline to collect 3,000 Heber City resident signatures is the weekend of May 22 and 23rd.
Heber City Councilmember Mike Johnston urges residents to go to the City's website to learn the North Village Overlay Zone's details and its impacts on future development.