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Roy City Council candidates focus on 1900 West development plans

By Tim Vandenack - | Nov 15, 2023

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Six candidates are running for three seats on the Roy City Council. They are, clockwise from top left, Claude Payne, Benjamin Pearson, Bryon Saxton, Joe Paul, Jeremy Thompson and Ann Jackson. Voting culminates Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023.

ROY — Development, particularly along the 1900 West corridor, looms as a big issue in the race for three seats on the Roy City Council.

It’s not the only thing, though. Other issues raised by the six hopefuls include luring of new business (connected to the 1900 West development plans), city beautification and creation of a new cemetery in Roy. The hopefuls are incumbents Joe Paul and Ann Jackson; Bryon Saxton, a former council member; and Claude Payne, Benjamin Pearson and Jeremy Thompson, all seeking office for the first time.

Mail-in balloting is underway, culminating next Tuesday, and the top three vote-getters will win election to office. Here’s what the candidates have to say:

Benjamin Pearson: Pearson, a Roy Police Department detective, puts a focus on bolstering efforts to lure business to Roy, in part so Roy residents can shop and spend locally.

He’s against the notion of bringing apartments to 1900 West in the city’s core commercial area, as permitted in zoning regulations narrowly approved in 2021 that allow for mixed-use development in the area. He’d push for reversal of the rezone.

“I stand against the high-rise apartments setting to come to Roy,” he said. A developer’s proposal is currently in the works that calls for apartments east of 1900 West in the city’s core area.

Pearson worries about auto congestion from new residents if housing comes in, altering the character of 1900 West. Just business development ought to be permitted in the area, he thinks. With more residents if new housing comes in, he also worries more city workers would have to be hired, putting upward pressure on property taxes.

Pearson also emphasizes the import of getting citizen input in making decisions about Roy.

“I just don’t feel that’s been done,” he said. “We just need to collect data and input before moving forward with change.”

Ann Jackson: Jackson, going for her second term, wants to keep serving to see some pending projects through, including the upgrade of the Complex, the city-owned sports and recreation facility in the midst of a major overhaul. She’s a secretary at Roy High School and runs a home-based silkscreening firm.

“I would like to finish what I started,” she said. She estimates the Complex improvements, which have forced the temporary closure of the facility, should be done by next February or March.

Jackson also wants to keep up efforts to promote beautification in the city. “I would like to try to get the pride back into Roy with the businesses and the residents,” she said.

She, too, would like to lure more businesses to Roy but recognizes that there’s frequently only so much city leaders can do, that business operators have their own criteria that dictate their actions.

As for 1900 West development, she doesn’t foresee the sort of scenario feared by some of the critics of allowing apartments along the roadway. She voted for the 2021 rezone allowing for mixed-use development.

“We’re never going to line 1900 with apartments like some cities do. We would never do it to our citizens,” she said. “That’s just not the look we want.”

Moreover, though a development plan is in the works east of 1900 West — closer to the Interstate 15 corridor, she said — luring in businesses takes time. She hopes for a hotel and a restaurant, perhaps. “It might take a few years,” she said.

Bryon Saxton: Saxton served on the City Council from 2018 through 2021, opted out of the 2021 campaign and is vying again this cycle, wanting to serve Roy. He chose not to run in 2021 due to health concerns — he suffers from a form of Parkinson’s disease — but now feels better and up to the task.

“I think I can get something done. I really do,” said Saxton, who previously worked for the Standard-Examiner.

He voted against the 2021 rezone measure and is leery about allowing apartments along 1900 West, favoring commercial development instead. “I know that there are businesses we could bring to Roy and we’ve just got to find those businesses that are looking to relocate or expand,” he said.

He’s traveled through cities that have promoted apartment development along their main roadways, reserving ground-floor space for commercial expansion. It seems like the ground-floor space, though, is always vacant, that interest is lacking, he said.

There are other areas of Roy, meantime, where housing development is possible and more apt, notably in the northern reaches of the city, Saxton said.

As for specific businesses, he’d like Roy to draw in a hotel and a sit-down restaurant. “It’d be nice to have someone bring a menu to the table,” he said.

He also thinks the city needs to look into developing a new cemetery as plots in the existing graveyard have largely been sold.

Jeremy Thompson: Thompson works in cybersecurity in the private sector, aiding with incident response efforts.

He touts the import of bringing in new business and housing to expand the city’s tax base. New businesses and the sales tax they generate, he says, can forestall the need for tax hikes.

He’s OK with the 2021 rezone allowing for mixed-use development along 1900 West. The proposed apartment development that has spurred debate is higher-end housing that’s not readily available across Utah. “So I think that’s good,” he said.

He also favors talk of creating a new cemetery somewhere in Roy and puts a focus on maintaining rigorous cybersecurity in city operations.

Thompson favors creation of some sort of mental health crisis response team, possibly at the county or city level, to aid in handling nonviolent situations that might otherwise be assigned to police. He thinks there might be state or federal grant funding to aid with such an initiative.

Joe Paul: Paul, seeking his second term, voted for the 2021 rezone and he’s running again in part because he wants to see Roy’s redevelopment efforts move forward. He’s a fleet purchasing manager.

“We’re trying to recover from 20 years of a stagnant economy in Roy,” he said. Once the first development in the corridor along 1900 West that’s a big part of the city’s redevelopment vision takes root, he foresees more.

The 1900 West section, roughly from Riverdale Road south past 5600 South, is the “perfect place” for development, he said, citing its proximity to I-15 and Interstate 84 and the nearby Roy Innovation Center development, still taking shape. “That’s what we’ve been hearing from developers,” he said.

He also doesn’t anticipate the sort of unfettered housing development some fear. The apartment project in the works, he said, chiefly features higher-end, single-bedroom apartments, geared in part to the influx of workers expected with the innovation center adjacent to Hill Air Force Base. That’s an initiative of Northrop Grummon, which is spearheading development of the U.S. Air Force’s multibillion-dollar Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile program.

The residents of the units won’t be three- or four-car families, he said, countering the notion of out-of-control congestion on 1900 West.

Paul also touts the import of communication with constituents, citing his efforts via social media and more. “I want to keep that open communication going,” he said.

Claude Payne: Payne, a retiree who previously worked as associate bursar at Weber State University, said his focus would be promoting commercial growth in part to bolster the city’s sales tax revenues, thus tempering reliance on property taxes.

He served on the Roy Planning Commission, helping push along the zoning update to promote development in the city. His preference is for more commercial development as opposed to housing, though.

“We don’t need a lot of apartments along 1900. We need more commercial development,” he said. He also touts the import of following through on plans to promote development around the city’s FrontRunner station.

Government transparency is important for Payne as well as openness to residents and their questions. Without conversation, he said, “things cannot move forward.”


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