LAYTON -- Local organizers believe they have the right number of signatures to force a land-use referendum on the ballot.
Organizers of a petition drive challenging the West Layton General Plan say they have gathered more than enough signatures to force a vote on two separate measures related to the project.
Jay Ripley, an official with Citizens for Responsible Growth in West Layton, said organizers of the petition drive exceeded the 5,000-signature threshold over the weekend and hope to have at least 1,000 more signatures than needed when they file the petitions with the county clerk's office Monday.
It will take more than legal signatures on the petition to get the matter before voters this year, however, Davis County Election Clerk Pat Beckstead said.
Beckstead said if the petition signatures prove valid, the issues wouldn't come before voters until 2013, unless the legislative body in Layton -- the city council -- votes to hold a special election to deal with the issue. It was the city council's original action that the petitions would challenge.
Beckstead said in order to be valid, each petition drive must have 4,676 valid signatures. She said some signatures will be thrown out because they can't be read, and other signatures may prove to be invalid. She said it is good practice to collect more signatures than the needed number.
In early April, after years of discussion and planning, the city council voted to approve three separate measures relating to what has been called a unique development on property owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Hill Field Road. There was vocal opposition to the plan at a hearing before the measures were approved.
One of those measures approved a lengthy zoning ordinance that creates a new set of form-based codes for the proposal. Planners have said the only concept close to the proposal in Utah is Daybreak in Salt Lake County.
After the vote, some West Layton residents have chosen to push the issue to another vote.
Rather than a shotgun approach to gathering signatures, organizers bought a voter registration list from the county. Ripley said they used the list to see who was registered to vote in Layton, and in many cases used the petition drive as a mechanism to register those who weren't registered.
One organizer claims it has been 38 years since Utah has seen a land-use referendum.
The petitions challenge the West Layton plan policy change of 107 acres of farmland in West Layton, which runs along Hill Field Road between 2200 West and 2700 West, and the adoption of an urban development code needed to create the urban community under the new policy.
City leaders said the plan has come as the result of looking to the future and taking advantage of the chance for a unique development.
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.
Wright describes the code as scripted guidelines on what type of buildings would be allowed, specific streetscape guidelines and a blending of different mixed uses. He and other city leaders admit the project will require a unique developer.
In the meantime, Ripley said the petition process has been rewarding. He said:
"I am grateful and humbled with the response of so many people sacrificing their time and money to put this issue on the ballot for the citizens of Layton. Even if we end up losing the opportunity to have this on the ballot, I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to meet so many good people in Layton and develop friendships that I hope will last a lifetime."