Heber City Council held a public hearing regarding the sale of cemetery surplus land for possible development and their portion of the Eastern bypass.
Heber purchased land across the street from the cemetery to the West of 550 East, known as the Duke Property. The Duke Property was purchased in 2018 to be used as future land for the cemetery.
The city already owned a little over 12 acres to the north of the cemetery and nearly 14 acres to the east that was originally slated to be used in the cemetery.
The city is now considering selling the two parcels to the North and East of the cemetery to be developed. The money from the sale would be used by the city to create their portion of the Eastern Bypass.
At the Tuesday evening public hearing more than a dozen residents got up to share their thoughts on the potential sale of those lots. Most of the citizens speaking were neighbors to the cemetery and were opposed to the sale and development of the land. Many argued that the parcels should remain open space.
One reason city staff has given previously to sale the land is because the North and East parcels are too rocky to be used to dig graves. Cemetery neighbor Jenny Jones Wallentine disputes that claim.
“I dug an extra deep basement and because of that I had a lot of extra soil,” Wallentine explained. “I had people offering to buy that soil because of the good condition, lack of rocks. Now I'd like to know how mine, which borders the cemetery on the south, has a magic line drawn at that fence that all of a sudden, the soil is no good and it's rocky. This is Utah come on we have rocks everywhere. Heber is blessed to have fertile ground.”
Ross Hansen asked if the city could consider swapping which lands, they sale and which they plan to keep.
“Why can’t the developer come in with a proposal to develop the Duke property and the corridor through the surplus cemetery?” Hansen asked. “What would be wrong with that? Why can't we consider stuff like that? It can be sold; the money can be generated to build that corridor.”
The city explained that using property taxes to build the road would be difficult as a one percent raise in taxes generates just $15,000. The proposed cost to build their portion of the bypass is $1.8 million.
Resident David Heywood asked why the city didn’t do a better job budgeting for the bypass since they knew it was coming since 2007.
“The developers and the developments that are coming that will benefit from this bypass, be it Red Ledges or Stone Creek or the new developments that are coming through their impact fees and the other things that they're paying into the city, that's what the city should be using to build the road that helps fund that growth,” Heywood said. “The growth should be sustaining itself and not selling the assets. Especially a treasured asset like this.”
Others asked the city to consider bonding for the project to fund the building of the road. Resident, and City Council Candidate, Brady Flygare asked the council if they had considered giving Red Ledges an extension on their deadline to complete their portion of the Eastern Bypass in exchange for Red Ledges building the cities portion of the bypass.
“You give them their year extension, two-year extension, at a cost of $1.8 million,” Flygare continued. “I've been in that situation where I couldn’t afford a $500 washer once, but two years later I could afford a $800 washer. They might be in the same position. Have you talked with him about that? About the cost to extend that?”
The public will have more opportunities to express their sentiments to council at future Heber City Council meetings and through emails to the council.