WEST HAVEN — The firm mulling a large housing development on an open field has scaled back plans, tempering the ire of some adjacent homeowners who worry the expansion will disrupt their neighborhood.
“They really worked with us, met with us and talked about our concerns,” said Kim Dixon, who had clamored against the proposed Ivory Homes development, originally put forward as a 256-unit proposal with 186 single-family homes and 70 town houses.
Now the plans have been tweaked, calling for 205 units — 151 homes and 54 town houses. The total area the units will sit on, around 32 acres, remains roughly the same, but the reduced number of units, a 20 percent drop, would cut the number of newcomers potentially moving in, tempering the impact on neighbors.
“The bottom line is we listened and we heard their concerns,” said Chase Freebairn, project manager with Ivory Homes, a Salt Lake City-based developer.
With growth in the forecast, though, don’t expect that to be the last skirmish between developers looking for space to build new homes and others, like Dixon, who worry the focus on building is getting out of control. She and others are in the process of recruiting city council candidates for next year’s municipal elections in West Haven who are sensitive to the concerns of established homeowners leery of go-go growth, something she says has been in short order.
“We have been pretty blasé about it for a long time and we have paid the price,” said Dixon. “I guess it had to hit your backyard before you realize what’s going on.”
Indeed, Dixon still suspects the next-door development, northeast of the 1800 South-2350 West intersection in northern West Haven, will cause traffic issues in the area, if it moves ahead. And not everyone has had good luck negotiating with developers, trying to get them to temper their proposals to minimize the impact to neighbors.
Neighbors around another proposed development site southwest of the 3500 West-4000 South intersection in southern West Haven lobbied for reduction of a 76-lot proposal on a 12-acre plot there with limited success. After some back and forth, West Have leaders ultimately approved a 68-lot proposal, not as dramatic a change as critics had sought.
“I’m just kind of feeling defeated about it,” said Kathie Darby, who lives west of the location and is familiar with the neighborhood efforts to scale back the development. It seems city leaders “charged ahead” despite the concerns of neighbors.
‘HURTING HOUSING AFFORDABILITY’
West Haven Mayor Sharon Bolos suspects the neighbors around the Ivory Home proposal aren’t completely satisfied. “For sure, it’s middle ground. If they had their choice, they’d probably say don’t develop,” she said.
But development has become the reality in West Haven, many other sections of Weber County and all along Utah’s Wasatch Front as new homes are needed to accommodate the quickly growing population. West Haven ranked as the fastest-growing city in Weber County between 2010 and 2017, growing in population by 31.7 percent, from 10,272 to 13,532 residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Even so, Bolos believes developers are mindful of the neighbors they stand to impact. She also noted that the city stands to gain around 32 acres for a much-needed city park from Ivory Homes adjacent to the planned housing cluster by Dixon’s home if the development, still not a sure thing, proceeds.
Freebairn, meantime, warned of the adverse effects when developers are unduly hamstrung by neighbors seeking a halt to development, what he calls “Nimbyism,” a play on Nimby, the acronym for the anti-development battle cry, “Not in my backyard.”
“Nimbyism is becoming a larger problem in hurting housing affordability in the state,” Freebairn said. Opposition to development can result in lower-density housing clusters, boosting the price of individual units, he said, and it can push development to further-flung areas, requiring increased travel and creating sprawl.
Whatever the case, Dixon, though satisfied her and her neighbors’ efforts yielded results, plans to keep at it. Aside from recruiting city council hopefuls for next year’s elections who are more mindful of homeowners’ concerns, she notes a West Haven development ordinance that, in her view, is still too generous toward developers.
“It was so vague that anyone who went in there could pretty much do anything,” she said.