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Roy, UTA plan envisions 3,400 more people living around FrontRunner stop

By Tim Vandenack - | Jun 22, 2023

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

The Roy FrontRunner station is pictured on April 7, 2021.

ROY — One of the last large open swaths of land in Roy is the focus of city and Utah Transit Authority officials, who envision up to 3,400 people living in the zone as the property is developed.

It’s just a plan at this point, but the officials envision a mix of town homes, senior living units, commercial development and apartments on the 80-or-so acres extending to the northeast and southwest of the Roy FrontRunner station. The land, paralleling the rail line cutting through the zone, is largely vacant with parcels variously owned by the private sector, UTA and the City of Roy.

“That’s the single biggest piece of property that’s still open,” Roy Mayor Bob Dandoy said. The FrontRunner station sits at 4155 Sandridge Drive in northern Roy, the second-to-last stop on the light rail system heading north before Ogden.

The Roy City Council earlier this month approved a station area plan outlining the development scheme around the UTA station, as required by state law in locales that have transit stations, like FrontRunner stops. It still faces review and approval by the Wasatch Front Regional Council, a regional planning body, but presuming it passes muster — perhaps later this summer — Dandoy is anxious for the development process to move ahead.

Ogden and UTA leaders have put forward a station area plan for the zone around the Ogden FrontRunner station, while Clearfield and UTA officials are in the process of creating one for the FrontRunner station in that Davis County city. Plans will have to be put together in many other locales.

‘IT’S AVAILABLE LAND’

Image supplied, City of Roy

A page from the Roy station area plan, which outlines a proposed development scheme around the FrontRunner station in the city. The image shows the area of focus.

The implementation plan for Roy, as outlined in the station area plan, extends out five or more years, but Dandoy would like to see quicker movement. “I’d like to see if we can speed that up. It’s available land. It’s just sitting there,” he said.

UTA officials, for their part, aren’t saying much.

In an email response to a series of Standard-Examiner queries, the state agency said it’s hoping for what it calls “transit-oriented development” at the site, same as at many FrontRunner stations. Generally, that entails development of higher-density housing — like town homes and apartments — to create a pool of possible users of the FrontRunner system, thereby boosting ridership.

Dandoy said one of the preliminary steps, once the station area plan is approved, would likely be seeking requests for proposals to develop the site from the private sector. UTA would likely oversee that process, but didn’t offer a firm timeline on when that might occur.

“This is dependent on how quickly the issues raised in the implementation plan can be resolved,” the agency said in the answers to the Standard-Examiner queries.

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

The FrontRunner station in Roy is pictured Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

Dandoy said one of the sticking points between Roy and UTA leaders in crafting the station area plan — which involved public participation — has been density of housing around the FrontRunner station. UTA officials have pushed for higher density than what Roy leaders want, and Dandoy said that would likely be a continuing discussion point as the process unfolds.

Roy had already crafted a zoning scheme and development plan for the area encompassing the FrontRunner station before House Bill 462 passed in the 2022 legislative session, requiring crafting of the station area plan. “We had the zoning ready. We were ready to move out,” he said.

The new plan, though, largely dovetails with Roy zoning guidelines covering the area. The focus area is a long, narrow section extending along the UTA rail line roughly from Trailside Drive on the south to Hinckley Drive on the north. Of the nearly 84 acres in the area, 9.6 acres is owned by the City of Roy, 17.7 acres is in UTA’s hands and much of the rest belongs to the private sector.

As outlined in the station area plan, more than 1,800 housing units would take shape in the area after the plan fully rolls out, drawing, Dandoy estimates, some 3,400 people.

The southern portion would contain town homes and senior living units because it “is closer to the mixed-use center, which provides more accessibility to available amenities and promotes a more independent lifestyle,” reads the plan.

The central area just to the north around the FrontRunner station would feature mixed-use development, including retail, office, industrial and residential elements. “In lieu of surface lots, subterranean parking features would accommodate both FrontRunner commuters as well as residents living in the mixed use development,” reads the plan.

The northernmost area beyond the central zone, meanwhile, would contain apartments and have the highest-density housing. “The higher-density apartments would aid in increasing both housing availability and affordability while being in proximity to public conveniences as a result of the mixed use surrounding the Frontrunner Station,” reads the plan.

The development proposal would still require buy-in from the private sector, even if approved.

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