ROY — With population growth and development in the offing, Mayor Bob Dandoy thinks it’s time for Roy to take a close look at how the city is evolving, particularly in the core commercial area.

“We need to do something with our downtown district to modernize it,” he said.

Likewise, the area around the FrontRunner station in northern Roy, with 18 acres of adjacent land there owned by the Utah Transit Authority, has potential, and prospects there also merit scrutiny.

Accordingly, city leaders are mulling a new development scheme in the two sectors, with implementation of what’s called form-based code that could potentially and dramatically change the arc of future development. Preliminary efforts started in early 2019 and the proposed new development scheme was the focus of a Roy City Council meeting Tuesday. The Roy Planning Commission is to resume deliberations on the matter at a meeting this coming Tuesday, potentially crafting a formal recommendation for the City Council to mull. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. and will be held at the Roy Municipal Building, 5051 S. 1900 West.

The idea — part of broader ongoing efforts to bolster Roy’s economy and draw in business — is to replace existing zoning guidelines governing the downtown area and the area around the FrontRunner station with form-based code. That, proponents say, would allow for more dynamic, walkable neighborhoods containing, possibly, a mix of homes, businesses and offices. Form-based code typically also spells out guidelines governing the look of buildings and neighborhoods, typically pushing structures closer to the street to create a more urban feel.

Dandoy points to the downtown Ogden area, around Historic 25th Street and The Junction zone just to the north, with its mix of restaurants, apartments and entertainment venues. He also cites the example of South Salt Lake, among other cities that have moved to form-based code. But though a 108-page draft document outlines proposed guidelines for introduction of form-based code to Roy, the issue will be the focus of more debate and deliberation, allowing, Dandoy said, for plenty of public input.

“We got some opportunities here. I think we can do some great things,” Dandoy said at last Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s the start point, but I believe this council is committed. We’re not going to address this issue in a vacuum. We need your input. We welcome your input.”

Roy form-based plans downtown

The rendering shows the core area of Roy that would be subject to form-based code development guidelines per plans city officials are currently debating. The plans come up for discussion at a Roy Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020.

The talk of moving to form-based code comes on top of other efforts to spur Roy’s economy. Those include moves to create up to three new special business districts that would allow use of property tax funds generated within them for development initiatives, completion of a study meant to encourage development of a hotel in the city and more.

Located so near Riverdale Drive, the busy commercial corridor with all its big-box outlets, Roy has at times struggled to bring in retail development. Dandoy thinks transitioning to form-based code could create a niche for the area that may jumpstart development.

“We’re not going to get a Target. We’re not going to get a Walmart in downtown Roy,” he said. “How can we make it a good business destination?”

Leaders in North Ogden last year considered implementation of form-based code development guidelines for Washington Boulevard in the city. The plans generated opposition from some and the City Council there ultimately nixed the proposal.

OFFICES, BUSINESSES, HOMES

Roy’s downtown area, around 1900 West and 5600 South roughly, would likely be ripe for quicker change should the city move to form-based code.

UTA has authority to move forward with the sort of development envisioned with form-based code around eight FrontRunner stations in the state, including the stations in Ogden and Clearfield. But the Roy station isn’t among them, and state lawmakers would first have to create legislation to allow for what’s called transit-oriented development, or TOD, on the 18 UTA-owned acres at the location.

Roy form-based code FrontRunner

The rendering shows the area around Roy's FrontRunner station that would be subject to form-based code development guidelines per plans that city officials are currently debating. The plans come up for discussion at a Roy Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020.

“If the Legislature were to allow more TODs, I think that’s a great idea,” Dandoy said.

Absent that, Councilman Joe Paul proposed separating the plans to implement form-based code development at the two locations. Thus, city officials could implement form-based code at one location, around the city core, while working out the details applicable around the FrontRunner station. “We already have developers who are ready to move on 1900,” Paul said.

Broadly, form-based code differs from more traditional zoning in that it allows for a range of uses on the same parcel of land — offices, businesses and homes, for instance. That theoretically increases walkability by making a range of offerings available in a relatively confined space. Traditional zoning typically allows for more restricted uses, maybe just a single use, on individual land parcels.

The preliminary form-based code proposal for the downtown area, along both sides of 1900 West from 6000 South north past Riverdale Road, carves it into three areas for slightly distinct development.

The portion dubbed Core A on the east side of 1900 West and south of Riverdale Road would be “the heart” of downtown Roy, according to the draft plans, and be used for commercial and retail development. “The isolated nature of this district allows for a higher intensity development, including taller building heights,” the proposal reads.

Core B on the northwest, southwest and southeast corners of 1900 West and 5600 South would also be used for commercial and retail development, though less intense than in Core A. “This important intersection, near the freeway ramp and the entrance to Hill Air Force Base, is an important gateway into Roy,” the plan states.

The General A zone, along 1900 West south of 5700 South and north, roughly, of Riverdale Road, would allow a greater degree of flexibility in development. “It includes a range of building types that will allow for a functional, mixed-use and walkable district,” the plan states.

The proposal around the FrontRunner station would carve it into Core and General areas.

The Core area abutting the station and along the rail line would be reserved for residential, office and commercial uses. The proposal is designed to take advantage of its proximity to the FrontRunner stop “by providing housing and jobs within walking distance of the station platform.” The General area, abutting residential neighborhoods, would be reserved for “lower intensity” uses.

An “innovation district” is identified east of the FrontRunner station along 4000 South, meant for offices “and other uses that support employment.”

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!