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Heber City moves forward with College Downs development along U.S. 40

A map presented at the Heber City Council meeting Tuesday shows annexations that were either pending or finalized as of this week.
Heber City
A map presented at the Heber City Council meeting Tuesday shows annexations that were either finalized or pending as of this week.

The Heber City Council began another process for annexing land along U.S. Highway 40 into its city limits Tuesday.

With a 4-1 vote to approve the College Downs annexation petition at its Tuesday meeting, the council made a stride in its strategy of clustering future developments north of downtown Heber City.

The College Downs property is a 20-acre piece of land in front of the Utah Valley University Wasatch extension. The plan there, which dates back to a 2008 agreement with Wasatch County, is to build mostly apartments for students to rent, as well as townhomes.

Logan Johnson spoke to the council on behalf of Wright Development Group. He wanted to annex the land into Heber City because city code would better accommodate his plans than the county would, and involve fewer zoning complications.

“I’d say there’s about 5 to 10 of those really weird issues where the county says, ‘You just don’t need it,’ and we say, ‘Well, come on guys, we’ve got to come to a conclusion.,’” Johnson said. “Ultimately, we felt like it might have to come down to a legal battle with the county, but it’s honestly the functioning of a very complicated development agreement and a very complicated underlying code.”

Johnson listed several reasons for seeking the annexation: He wants to negotiate for more density than the county agreement allowed, for one. He also said the development company is already paying fees on the property, such as for water rights, so the sooner the company can develop the land and rent out its apartments, the better.

The College Downs parcel is surrounded by five other properties east of Highway 40 that are either annexed into Heber City or also in the process of annexing.

Councilor Mike Johnston said part of why he supported the move was to avoid creating an island in the Heber City map when all of those others are finalized.

“I absolutely think this development should be in the city,” Johnston said. “I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but these can be vetted out, and I don’t want holes in our city. I want to get this done, put it into the city according to our code, so I definitely support.”

Councilor Ryan Stack said he’d only be comfortable annexing the property into the city with a development agreement the county supports.

Councilor Yvonne Barney voted no. She said that’s because a stormwater runoff study for the area isn’t finished. She also said there’s already a lot of high-density development planned for that area, and she’s concerned water availability won’t keep up with the anticipated population growth.

The decision of whether to finalize the annexation is still months away and will follow a series of reviews with city planning staff, the planning commission and a public protest period.

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