What will Heber look like 30 years from now? Continued sprawl or high-density town centers with open space surrounding? Or something else? Answering those questions has been the purpose of the Envision Heber 2050 project. The Wednesday evening meeting saw the city come one step closer to updating their general plan.
Utah’s Third Congressional District Representative John Curtis opened the meeting. Representative Curtis spent much of the day in meetings with the mayors of Heber and Midway. Curtis himself was the mayor of Provo before running for congress. He made two promises to the audience of around 50 Heber residents. One promise was that if Heber citizens don’t plan their town, the developers will. The other promise he made was that residents will be upset with their elected officials.
“You get to decide under what terms they come," Curtis explained. "Now there are going to be hard decisions ahead of you. You elected them to look into the future and make the best decisions they can make based on what they see in the future. That's what you need them to do. Almost always those are going to bother you, because they're hard decisions. So just do the best you can to get into their skin. Understand why their making the decisions. I used to tell people, if you knew what I knew, you would make the same decisions that I make. So, it's incumbent upon them to share what they know and share why their making those decisions. I think it's incumbent on you to crawl inside their head and try to understand.”
The results presented on Wednesday were shaped by public input coming from two public meetings, 2,500 unique visitors to the website and over 1,200 survey responses. The result of that input revealed six big ideas important to Heber residents. Those include open space and rural character preservation, trails, town centers, downtown enhancements, neighborhoods with open space and small-town character. Project consultant Christie Oostema shared the vision statement.
“Heber city is nestled in a green valley brimming with historic agricultural uses, that beautiful Provo river and unmatched views of the Wasatch mountains," Oostema said. "Our residents value this beautiful and unique setting and are committed to preserving its character, while growing and nurturing our city. Together we desire to preserve the beautiful open land that surround us. Create friendly neighborhoods and centers that focus homes, jobs, shopping, and recreation into places where we gather and interact regularly. To enhance downtown and strengthen it, the heart of our community. And to grow, promote, and diversify our recreational opportunities. By focusing our growth in specific areas, we foster a vibrant community and a quiet countryside. A place where residents and visitors alike will enjoy for generations to come.”
At the meeting residents were able to provide more specific feedback on the general plan. For example, one poster in the Heber Valley Elementary School Auditorium included more details on future town centers. Attendees could voice their opinions on building height and number of stories allowed in town centers, as well as deciding what amenities should be included, including play structures, amphitheaters and plazas.
The meeting also outlined a timeline for the adoption of the general plan. In September a short survey meant to help craft the details of the general plan will be made available. On October 9th will be an open house for the actual plan proposal.
The plan will then have a planning commission workshop in October, a public hearing in November and possible adoption by city council in December. You can find more information about Envision Heber here.