FARMINGTON -- With an eye to the future, local officials have voted to rezone a large section of land on the city's northwest side in hopes of having room for a business park in the coming years.
Following a lengthy public hearing and discussion that took almost three hours, the council voted 4-1 last week to approve zoning map amendments and changes in the general plan that redesignate approximately 240 acres north of Shepard Creek, west of Interstate 15, south of Shepard Lane and east of the Utah Transit Authority trails to class A business park.
Zoning in those areas was also changed from residential mixed use, large residential and R-4 to office mixed use (OMR).
The changes came after substantial citizen input that urged local leaders to stop the process, or simply slow it down. Most of the participants were residents who live adjacent to the targeted area.
"The quality of life will be greatly downsized if I have a six-story building behind me," Becky Goodrich said of having new structures in the region.
Goodrich said she moved to the area because her property didn't have anything behind her home.
Dave Millheim and other city officials held several meetings with landowners in the area before moving ahead with the proposed zoning changes. They have stressed that the changes only initiate a process that could take years.
One of those landowners, Mike Romney, urged city officials to do all they can to protect the financial interests of people who have homes in the designated area. Romney owns 2 acres and a large home in the area and is worried future developers would only be interested in the ground and not giving him fair value for his home.
"It could be quite financially devastating for us when a developer comes in," Romney said.
Resident Kristy Shields also spoke against the zoning changes.
"I understand change has to happen. I don't think it's fair to anyone to have a business up against their house. Seems like it goes against everything Farmington stands for," Shields said.
Kyle Stowell wondered if the city has a need for more office buildings in the future. He addressed the rights of property owners and said changes should be initiated by property owners, not the city.
"It sounds like this is being rushed. If nothing is going to be put in place for years, let's mull it over and slow it down," Stowell said.
Millheim stressed there is an immediate time element to the changes, because there is increasing pressure to allow high-density housing in the region. But he also knows any development could be years away.
"At 30,000 feet, you look at when does the city have a chance for a business park. From there it makes a lot of sense. ... This is just plowing the field, if you will. It's extremely far off," Millheim said.
Council members talked about buffers for the property owners adjacent to the area and about possibly taking a tiered approach to any development.
Councilman Cory Ritz was the lone vote against the changes, and he argued the city should take steps to ensure those things are in the works before the zoning changes, not after.
Mayor Scott Harbertson noted city leaders have talked about a potential business park in the region for almost a decade. He said city leaders have a responsibility to plan for future land uses. With increasing pressure for high-density housing, Harbertson said, local leaders had to act.
"At this point we couldn't sit on our haunches and wait for it to happen."