LAYTON -- A village center proposal on the city's west side, akin to Daybreak in Salt Lake County, is moving forward after city leaders approved the concept.
The city council approved three separate measures related to creating a unique development on Hill Field Road property owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, despite vocal opposition from a large contingent of west-side residents who packed the council chambers.
The property is near the stretch from 2200 West to 2700 West, just south of Hill Field Road.
A hearing on the issue lasted almost 4 1/2 hours.
The council voted 3-2 to approve a village center plan amendment to the West Layton Plan, and then voted unanimously to approve a lengthy zoning ordinance amendment, creating a new set of form-based codes for the proposal.
The final vote of the night was a rezoning request that changed the classification of 107 acres owned by the church from agricultural to a village center zone. That measure passed by a 3-2 vote.
Councilmen Scott Freitag and Michael Bouwhuis voted against both the center plan amendment and the rezone, citing the need to find some answers to specific questions that arose during the public hearing.
Freitag tried unsuccessfully on two separate measures to table the items and to set a May 3 deadline for further review. Both of those measures were defeated.
Councilman Jory Francis, a west-side resident, pushed for approval of each of the three proposals, citing a need to move ahead to review specifics without compressing that review into a one-month time frame.
More than two years into the process, local representatives painted a picture of the village concept as a chance to be visionary in creating a blueprint for a development with a village feel on the city's west side. The concept blends office, commercial and a variety of housing options into the targeted area.
Nathan Norris, a consultant hired by the city to spearhead the project, suggested the project would allow officials to be proactive in the way they want that section of the city to be developed, instead of being on the defensive.
Norris said the only development even close to what is being proposed for west Layton is Daybreak, but he said this project has some significant differences. He said it will take a unique developer to take on the challenge of what is being outlined.
"You've made a decision that you want the character of this place to be different. The challenge is it costs a lot of money to develop a full-blown plan to create the character of what you desire," Norris told council members in a work session before the meeting.
He suggested most developers won't want the detailed restrictions and guidelines the project area carries, but said the right developer will appreciate that many of the administrative obstacles have been cleared before putting money into any construction.
The form-based codes allow city leaders to be much more up front with what any development proposal will look like, said Bill Wright, community and economic development director.
"We have a vision of what we'd like to see. The code will actually help to deliver that. It's not just a hope that a developer will come along and want to do that," Wright said.
Wright described the code as scripted guidelines on what type of buildings would be allowed, specific streetscape guidelines and a blending of different mixed uses.
City leaders spent more than two hours going over general parameters of the proposal in the public hearing and then opened it up to the public for another two hours-plus of discussion. Only one resident spoke in favor of the plan.
Residents cited concerns about the project, from the possibility of more multifamily housing to traffic questions and potentially losing the rural feel of the area.
Ron Gibb said the unique proposal is a great idea; it just doesn't fit the area.
"The concept is a good one in the right place. This isn't the place. This is Layton. We don't want it," Gibb said.
Kara Triplett said she has to be realistic about the fact that west Layton will be developed, but she echoed concerns about a mixed-use approach to the region.
"I know other cities who are saying 'it's not working.' Is this the area for mixed use?" Triplett said.
Freitag was frank with residents about what is driving the initiative, saying:
"It is the city council that is driving this, not the property owner, not the staff -- it is this council. We feel a responsibility as leaders of this city to plan for short- and long-term growth and for our needs. We look at transportation, water, air, all of the things that are important for us to live in a healthy community. Our responsibility is to look and prepare for the growth of this community."