A private group of Heber residents have submitted a petition to the city asking that the City Council's North Village Overlay Zone vote taken in March be overturned and put to a voter referendum.
Heber City has accepted the petition, and now it’ll work with the sponsors to create a definition of the NVOZ, an agreed statement of their concerns, and why the city wants the new zone.
Heber City Councilor Rachel Kahler said Wasatch County approved the land use in 2000.
“I want the lowest density that we are required in the North Village, that has always been my stance, is I don't want to overdevelop the east side of Heber, and so currently, Wasatch County's land use was approved in early 2000,” she said. “And then they had some developers come with proposals, but really the North Village resort was the only one that has entitlements, everything else with proposals that nothing was ever finalized, and so if the NVOZ does get voted down by the public in November, then what we will see is it go back to the county. But then those developers will be required to go to the county with proposals."
Kahler said she supports annexing the North Village into the city for tax purposes. However, she said it's a balancing act with commercial growth, high-density housing and livability in mind.
"I think that's where the public has really come out and said we understand that this area will be developed, but we don't want to see apartment buildings and multiplexes,” the city councilor said. “What we want to see is what is indicative of Heber City and that's lower density neighborhoods, and we all recognize that commercial is vital to the city and to the county and just the valley as a whole but what is that balance? And I think that's where everyone is really struggling."
Trudy Simmons is one of the organizers with Friends of Heber Valley, and she said that they have a short time frame to collect signatures to qualify for a ballot measure.
"We have to collect 3,000 signatures, and we're going to have about 45 days, so that will go through April and into May,” Simmons said.
Only registered voters can sign the petition, but anyone can help collect signatures.
"This petition is not about stopping development,” Simmons said. “We understand that development is going to happen and that it's necessary, but what the petition is specifically trying to do, is revoke this North Village Overlay Zone code that allows more density than the county would allow."
Kahler said the trend in development is to increase density and at the same time provide more open space. She said under the NVOZ, the city could collect open space fees from developers to preserve the North Fields.
"There's a potential of raising $5 million,” she said. “That would then go into buying development rights or actually buying property in the North Fields and the NVOZ, let's have a mechanism within it that we can actually collect fees from those developers to then use to protect your fields."
Kahler said there has never been a code that has had this kind of input with four public hearings and 18 meetings.
"A lot has changed in our valley. Since then, we have more standards for roads. We have more standards for open space. We are now working to develop parks and amenities. We have a higher level of architecture requirements, and of course, storm drainage is a big discussion right now. And then what are the environmental protections on wetlands and what are the air quality, environmental protection?"
Kahler said there are clear advantages to the NVOZ when compared to the code adopted by Wasatch County more than 20 years ago.
To view the Friends of Heber Valley's petition, visit the group's website or its Facebook group. If you're interested in canvassing or learning more about the initiative, email firstname.lastname@example.org.