Weber County leaders to craft plan to help address housing crunch
OGDEN — As the housing crunch continues, a body made up of elected leaders from across Weber County will craft a plan meant to help tackle the issue.
The Weber Area Council of Governments, or WACOG, approved creation of a special task force that will be charged with coming up with a Weber County Housing Master Plan by the end of the year. Harrisville Mayor Michelle Tait and Melissa Freigang of the county’s Prosperity Center of Excellence, who co-chair WACOG’s Affordable Housing Subcommittee, will lead the effort.
Efforts to create the master plan, formally approved Monday, are just getting off the ground, but Tait she said hopes it will provide guidance for locales in meeting requirements set out in state legislation also aimed at countering the housing crunch.
“Hopefully they will help the cities that have had such a hard time complying with what the state’s required,” Tait said Friday. State lawmakers, she suspects, could tweak the requirements on locales related to housing development and task force reps will be monitoring potential new legislation.
Ogden City Councilperson Richard Hyer, a WACOG member who’s pushed for creation of the task force, said the document is meant to aid cities in identifying areas where housing growth may be possible. However, he emphasized that the intent is also to let communities retain their distinct identity amid any housing expansion.
Aside from identifying areas ripe for housing expansion, the plan is supposed to identify areas where open space can be preserved for recreational opportunities and pinpoint opportunities for job creation and business growth, according to the parameters approved by the WACOG officials. Quality-of-life issues like health and connectivity are supposed to factor in the effort.
City’s won’t be obliged to comply with the master plan once complete, but officials hope it will serve as a guiding document in addressing the need for more housing, particularly affordable housing.
A Wasatch Front Regional Council study found that as of 2019, Weber County was short more than 1,300 housing units for low- and very low-income households, echoing the situation all along the Wasatch Front.
The gap has likely grown, according to the study, which identifies space for population growth particularly in the county’s western expanses. Ogden provides 65% of the affordable housing in Weber County, the study found.
Tom Christopulos, who retired earlier this year as Ogden’s community and economic development director, and Steve Waldrip will aid in the effort, according to Hyer. Waldrip helps lead the Rocky Mountain Homes Fund, a nonprofit group that promotes home ownership among working Utahns.