Last week, the Heber City Council approved the adoption of the North Village Overlay Zone (NVOZ) in a 3 to 1 vote. Now, a group of about 12 people have challenged the approval and submitted a petition to the city to put the decision on a voter ballot.
Heber City Mayor Kelleen Potter said the law allows petitioners to challenge the city’s legislative decisions within seven days. The city has 3 weeks to process and analyze the petition to overturn the NVOZ approval and its potential fiscal impacts. Afterward, the petitioners have 45 days to collect 3,000 signatures before it can be put on the November ballot.
Potter said the new zone is replacing the one they adopted from the county several years ago.
“What this new zone was, was an attempt to bring in all of the principles of Envision Heber, and we've had, you know, a year and a half of work and a lot of public hearings,” she said. “This zone, really, it reflects better what people are asking for.”
If the NVOZ is voted down, she said the 20-year-old existing Wasatch County zone would remain in place.
Heber City resident Trudy Simmons and her husband started the Friends of Heber Valley Facebook page. She was one of the residents to submit the petition to start the process to reverse the zone approval. She said their concerns are that the recently approved zone change is not restrictive enough. She is concerned the city is hiding density with the new ERU (equivalent residential unit) measurement chart.
“The county’s ERU chart is stricter than the city’s,” Simmons said. “So, there are more stringent requirements and ERUs are being assigned a little bit more strictly than they would be in the city. But what comes to mind when I hear this said, is they have entitlements from the county so they could start building in the county tomorrow. But they haven’t. So, why don't they? They've had these for years, but they haven't. One has to ask, is it because they think they can get more from the city? The ultimate aim of developers is to make money, so their strategy is going to be based on what's best for them.”
Simmons said the reason they started the Friends of Heber Valley Facebook page was to help people understand the existing development approvals that are in place for the North Village area.
“The question is can we help make it smarter, can we help make it more in line with what people want,” Simmons said. “The vibe that a lot of people are getting is that developers have got a lot of sway with the city council and some of the city staff. And we've been trying to make sure that the city staff and the city council hear the voices of the citizens.”
Simmons said they calculated nearly 8,500 units already approved since 2017. More than 5,000 are in the Sorenson development which was annexed into the city last year.
She said the new zone should not allow for more units than was agreed to in the memorandum of understanding with Wasatch County.
New ERU calculations were considered by Heber City Council during the March 16 meeting.