The Heber City Council discussed the Old Mill development proposal for a third time in work session on Tuesday. It's located off US 40 south of 1200 south near the Wastch County Justice Court. Council is not comfortable with the zone change request, saying it’s not the right place for high-density residential development.
Heber City Mayor Kelleen Potter says the current commercial zone would allow more housing density than what is being asked for in the proposed Old Mill development plans at the intersection of Mill Road and U.S. 40 in south Heber. But she says the C-2 commercial zone requires housing to be above commercial development.
“What the developers are saying is there’s just not demand for commercial in this area and there's a lot of commercial opportunities in the city that are in even better locations with better access and so they've tried to come up with a proposal that would create some housing at prices that we don't have really anywhere in the valley right now,” she said.
Potter says the proposal is compelling because it offers non-deed restricted affordable housing, but the council is concerned with the lack of easy access in that location.
“Two of the council members were saying the reality is there's not going to be good access here, UDOT is not a lighted intersection,” she said. “They're not even going to allow a left turn out of that development. One council member kept bringing up the idea of a big box and you know someday we need a Costco and the other two council members were saying it's just not going to happen you're not going to get a Costco, A. because our population and B. because it's not a good location.”
The conversation ended with most of the council asking the developer to return with something different.
“There’s one council member, Hardman, who at one point appeared to be siding with the ones who said it's not good for commercial, and then he shifted and went with the two [council members] that said we need to reserve it for commercial,” the mayor said. “So, they rejected the developer’s proposal. The developer’s been coming for a long time trying to make something work and they basically told him he had to come back with something that would fit in the C-2 commercial zone.”
Potter says no one seems to want affordable housing in their neighborhoods.
“Pretty much anywhere else you go, there are neighbors that don’t want it in their area,” she said. “Nobody wants apartment complexes. I just think we're just really facing the pains of this need for affordable housing as we continue to watch prices go up. But nobody wants to really deal with it and we can't deal with it in a way that Park City does. We don't have the budget for that, so it's an ongoing conversation.”
Potter has approached the Wasatch Housing Authority asking for a county-wide strategy to address the lack of affordable housing.