Western Weber County plan envisions ‘walkable villages,’ transit development
OGDEN — The proposed update to the planning document for western Weber County envisions several “walkable villages” on a corridor extending west from Interstate 15 toward the Great Salt Lake, where larger population pockets would presumably cluster as growth continues.
The villages would also serve as commercial hubs for the area, still largely rural but focus of increased development as the population surges. Meantime, the draft document — in the works since last year and subject of a public hearing on Aug. 8 — also envisions potential development over the long haul of a light rail system adjacent to the existing east-west Union Pacific rail line in the area to serve the varied villages.
The hearing, called by the Weber County Commission and meant to gather public input, starts at 6 p.m. on Aug. 8 and will be held at the Weber Center, 2380 Washington Blvd. in Ogden. The Western Weber Planning Commission, an advisory body to county commissioners, held a hearing on July 19, ultimately recommending approval of the plan, though county commissioners aren’t expected to take formal action until Aug. 16 or thereafter.
Talk of updating the 2003 general plan dates back at least four years to 2018, when the Weber County Planning Division held a series of hearings to get feedback from the public on the area’s future growth. A consultant, Landmark Design, launched efforts last year to handle the actual update and has held public meetings and other gatherings to get public input.
As the process has unfolded, the public, broadly speaking, has expressed support for maintaining the country feel of the area, according to Landmark.
“Agrarian noises, odors and farm equipment are all part of the agricultural lifestyle that many existing residents love and enjoy. Considering the proximity of the adjacent urbanized area, the relatively dark night sky and lack of light pollution has quite a bit of support from area residents,” reads the draft general plan update.
On the flip side, many voiced aversion to allowing sprawling development.
“There was very little support for filling the existing open lands with large‐lot suburban development similar to the development patterns of other areas in southern Weber County or northern Davis County,” the draft went on.
In the end, the document aims to focus development in certain areas while keeping larger swaths of land more open, with less-dense development. The draft plan also contains planning provisions for the Uintah Highlands area abutting South Ogden, which is also unincorporated, like the main focus area of western Weber County.
Notably, the land-use map drawn up as part of the effort shows higher-density development clusters at scattered points going west, roughly along the 12th Street corridor, the main east-west roadway through the area. The clusters — the “walkable villages” — allow for mixed-use residential and commercial development as well as “vehicle-oriented” commercial development on their periphery.
“Not the whole corridor is commercial, it’s these specific nodes,” Charlie Ewert, principal planner in the Weber County Planning Division, said at the July 19 hearing. The nodes, according to the draft documents and Ewert, are located roughly around 3500 West, 4700 West, 5500 West, 6700 West and 7100 West. The map shows another node around 8300 West.
The 3600 West and 4700 West nodes sit along the 12th Street corridor while the others more closely abut the Union Pacific rail line paralleling the 12th Street corridor just to the south. A transit system is depicted in draft maps along the Union Pacific rail line, with a transit station at each of the six village nodes.
Ewert envisions perhaps a grocery store and maybe a hardware store around the 4700 West node as demand necessitates and more further west around the 6700 West node. That 6700 West development area sits near the planned northward extension into Weber County in the years to come of the West Davis Corridor highway now taking shape in Davis County.
“Over here on the other side of the river, in this mixed-use community, they’re planning on quite a bit of big box retail operations out there as they get rooftops populating the area,” Ewert said at the July 19 hearing, alluding to the 6700 West area.
The draft planning document says currently there are no mixed-use commercial areas in western Weber County and it offered up a description of the vision. “In each mixed‐use area there should be at least one community ‘main street.’ The main street should provide retail sales, services, eateries and related activities that make the street interesting to use,” it reads.
Plans for the transit network extending out along the 12th Street corridor and the Union Pacific rail line are only on paper at this stage. But the planning document alludes to the corridor’s importance in serving as a conduit to haul people as growth takes place.
The corridor “should be highly multi‐modal, with enough vehicle capacity and with pedestrian and other active transportation-mobility facilities separated from the moving vehicle traffic. The possibility for long‐term transit service along this corridor should be pursued,” the document reads.
It cites the potential of developing a “light rail” system along the corridor or a bus rapid transit system, like the Utah Transit Authority network taking shape in Ogden to link the FrontRunner station with Weber State University and McKay-Dee hospital.
Notwithstanding the vision along the 12th Street corridor, much of unincorporated western Weber County is earmarked for medium- to large-sized residential lots in the draft document.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the correct date, Aug. 8, of the public hearing on the draft general plan update.