The Heber City Council rejected the planned North Village Resort’s request to annex into the city at a meeting on Tuesday evening.
The North Village Crossing Annexation is almost 140 acres located at the southeast and southwest corners of River Road and US 40. The developers signed a 25-year development agreement with Wasatch County in 2013, the plan will result in several hundred nightly rental units, and nearly half a million square feet of retail, including a gas station and a water park.
Heber City adopted a new Annexation Policy Plan in September 2018 to reflect potential areas to grow the city. The vast majority of the expansion area is to the north of current city development and almost all entirely on the east side of US 40. The North Village Resort was the only exception.
Council member Rachel Kahler brought the developers to the council meeting to address the environmental concerns of having a development of that nature so close to the Provo River.
“We’re not sure we want a water park as the welcome to Heber Valley. We are a beautiful, quintessential, mountain town,” she said. “The proposal really is something grandioso, but not necessarily representative of what Heber’s always been.”
Bruce Barrett, the developer of the project, spent some time addressing council concerns regarding the potential environmental impacts of the project. He also spoke about the positive tax revenue benefits of having the commercial base located at the busy intersection. Kahler asked why they wanted to be annexed into the city. Barrett said they are meeting the list of requirements from the county, but they are frustrated by new ordinances regarding required timelines for moving from preliminary plat approvals to final plat approval.
Council member Ryan Stack weighed in, saying he was not interested in moving forward with the annexation.
“The density that you want to move forward with here; I simply can’t support,” Stack said. “Especially when I know that it’s the subject of a dispute with the county at this time. I don't imagine you have any interest coming back and saying here’s my proposal for my base density I can get with the county today. If you want to do that, I’m all ears, or if you want to talk about buying up all the development right in the north fields that you say you support, I'm all ears as well. But short of that I simply can’t see moving forward with this.”
Fellow council member Mike Johnston said he wishes the parcel would stay undeveloped but felt that the idea of the land remaining undeveloped was unrealistic.
“It would be a crying shame to have a big resort with a lot of traffic, a lot of intense commercial activity going on, hundreds and hundreds of units being rented on a nightly basis, and none of it being in Heber City,” Johnston said. “We’re giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars of sales tax, of property tax, of transient room tax and a whole lot of impact onto that intersection and onto the highway which will be in our town. It’s going to be there. It’s going to be there just like Kimball Junction is sitting there on I-80 and the entrance into Park City. Park City has zero control over any of that. They get lots of impact and zero control, zero money, nothing.”
Kahler concluded sharing her dislike of the project.
"I don't like the density, I don't like the water park, I don't like that this is the gateway to our community,” she said. “I don't think that we should be for sale.”
I don’t want to hear that the county is the reason that you don't want to move forward. The county is there because they have put ordinances, they’ve entitled this and they’re expecting developments to meet those agreements. I would rather see a dry 40 acres for the next 100 years.”
“But that’s not what’s going to be there,” Barrett said.
“And that’s OK,” Kahler responded. “I hope that you can go back to the County and resolve your difference and work with the County on making this happen. But I do not want to see this in Heber City. I don't want to see any development west of Highway 40.”
With all council members except Johnston on board, the council indicated to Barrett there is no more interest in annexing the project into Heber.