Heber City Council will be voting on and likely approving a petition known as the Sorenson annexation at their Tuesday meeting. The agreement will double the size of Heber.
The 5,700-unit development on 8,000 acres to the north of current Heber City boundaries was originally approved by a previous Wasatch County Council. Heber City Mayor Kellen Potter says it’s within the city and the developers best interest to have urban development take place within a municipality.
“Cities are designed for urban development,” Potter said. “We have better processes and then people have to pay municipal taxes for the services they receive. If they are in an unincorporated part of the county, we all pay for their services as county taxpayers. I feel like they should be paying municipal services if they’re in urban densities. The other one is I think it's going to be a better development in the city. We've done a huge effort of planning, and they're going to benefit from that. We have better sign ordinances, dark sky ordinances, and I think it'll be a better development as part of Heber City.”
Striking the deal between the two entities did not have an impact on the earlier decided upon density, it did however result in clustering of the development. The project will be made up of three village centers one near the UVU campus, another near the southern end of the Jordanelle Reservoir and the final in the Jordanelle Mountains.
Clustering the development will leave 5,000 of the projects 8,000 acres for open space.
“It’s anticipated that the open space will be dedicated to the city,” Potter explained. “So, then the city will maintain the open space. The council is in conversations about how that will be funded and how that will all work out still. The trail system that Sorenson has already built will stay except with some of it being relocated and then added to. So, we'll see a lot of what the trails are the people love and are already using will be maintained and stay the way they are.”
The buildout will occur over 40 years, eventually doubling the size of Heber. Potter says the UVU and Lakeside Village centers will have retail and mixed use.
“It's more accessible, less demand on the roads, because people aren’t having to all drive to Smiths in Heber City,” Potter continued. “There will be places anticipated to meet all the needs on the north end of town.”
10% or 570 units will be required to be affordable housing, and they will not be limited to a single location.
“That’s another requirement in the master development agreement, is that they do not have it all in one area,” Potter said. “It has to be spread throughout the different village centers, so it's not all one center of affordable housing.”
During last meetings public comment session one resident asked if it was wise for the city to lock the developer into current zoning laws for the next 40 years. Potter says it’s common for MDA’s of this size to lock in zoning.
“We're going to get a higher quality development if they have some predictability and they're not thinking well we better withhold some cash because the city might change our road standards, or they might require more of us,’ Potter explained. “So if they know what's happening, we believe the quality of the development will be higher. We also have in the development that if the developer agrees with the city, they will make changes as time moves on. They want to have the best development possible, as do we. Currently they are agreeing to some changes we haven't even adopted yet on street standards. The council is looking to narrow some of our street requirements for less concrete and wider park strips, they’re agreeing to those things, even though we haven't adopted them yet.”
The council is finalizing the master development agreement to vote on Tuesday, final touches include pinning down some of the amenities provided at parks including parking. The Tuesday evening meeting is being conducted online due to COVID-19.