A Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner train passes through Layton near Kays Crossing.

LAYTON — Like many cities along the Wasatch Front, Layton expects a significant population surge over the next three decades.

According to City Planner Tim Watkins, Layton will see an influx of 30,000 new residents between now and 2050 — a 40 percent climb from its current population of about 75,000.

As the population swells, Watkins says, housing costs also are growing — at more than twice the rate of household income.

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The scenario has put a financial burden on new households and could prevent younger Laytonians from staying in the community, Watkins says. Meanwhile, maintaining streets and infrastructure and providing public services will require a steady stream of property and sales taxes.

To prepare for the dramatic expansion and stave off some of those growing pains, city officials have initiated a multi-year planning process, culminating with a new general plan that the city council likely will vote on in the summer of 2018.

The city’s current plan has not been updated in at least 15 years, Layton Mayor Bob Stevenson said. 

Layton’s growth challenges aren’t unique. Projections from the Utah Governor’s Office of Management and Budget and The University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute predict the state’s population will reach 5 million by 2050. Much of that growth will occur along the Wasatch Front.

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“All residents in Davis and Weber counties have to realize — even though you might not want to see change, change is going to happen,” Stevenson said. “And we really need to prepare for it now. If you let this growth get ahead of your planning, you’re going to run into some real problems.”

Watkins said a “vision” for the future Layton was established in 2016 — a document that will be used to craft the more formal general plan. Hundreds of residents and stakeholders took part in creating the vision, which calls for neighborhoods with greater housing variety and more amenities like parks, small shops and agriculture areas, he said.

The vision also calls for town centers throughout the city, meant to give neighborhoods convenient access to shopping, gathering spaces and services.

“There might be a neighborhood shop where you can go and have a cup of hot cocoa in the fall and talk with your neighbors,” Watkins said.

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Trails connecting neighborhoods, greenspace areas and Historic Downtown Layton are also envisioned. 

Christie Oostema owns People + Place, the consultant working with Layton on the plan, and said the neighborhoods envisioned are a return to pre-1950s America.

“It’s kind of a return to our historic roots,” Oostema said. “If you look at some of the older neighborhoods in Ogden — walkable with parks and gathering spaces — that’s what we’re looking at.”

Watkins and Stevenson said the city also plans to preserve land for commercial and industrial development, maintaining that convenience and proximity to residents’ work and shopping places will help to pay for the costs of servicing residential areas.

A public workshop involving the plan is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at Layton High School, 440 Wasatch Drive. A survey is also open to residents ahead of the meeting. The survey and other documentation associated with the plan can be found at LaytonForward.org.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/MitchShaw.StandardExaminer.

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