ROY — As talks in Roy about development around the city’s FrontRunner station edge forward, a couple things are becoming clear.
Utah Transit Authority officials are hoping for sufficient housing development in the vacant spaces around the station to bolster use of the commuter rail line. They also want to aid in efforts to address the lack of housing along the Wasatch Front, a big issue.
“We want to make sure there’s density, and I know the ‘D’ word is tricky,” said Beth Holbrook, a member of the UTA Board of Trustees. More specifically, the general hope on UTA-owned land around the station, she said, would be for a development plan allowing for perhaps 50 units per acre.
Moreover, though the process of crafting a development plan around the UTA station is in the early stages, she suspects there will be interest once such a plan emerges. “I will tell you candidly that there are plenty of developers that are looking to do these types of projects,” Holbrook said.
The land around the Roy station at 4155 Sandridge Drive is largely undeveloped, but UTA policy encourages transit-oriented development schemes at its FrontRunner stations — mixed-use, walkable development that serves as gathering spots. With that in mind, Roy officials are in the midst of debating tweaks to the specific zoning standards on about 50 acres around the station and they discussed the matter Tuesday during a work session with Holbrook. The sort of development to allow — specifically, the size of any new buildings and the number of housing units they contain — are among the key points of discussion.
Roy isn’t Salt Lake City, so the standards around the UTA stations in the much-larger city shouldn’t necessarily apply here, Holbrook said. “But at the same time, we all share these housing challenges,” she went on, alluding to the dearth of affordable housing along the Wasatch Front, “so what can we do within your community to really address it to the best of our ability?”
Around 18 of the 50 acres that are the focus of discussion belong to the UTA, with the rest largely in the hands of the private sector, though the city owns some. Roy Mayor Bob Dandoy foresees mixed-use development in the area directly around the station, owned by the UTA — apartments and some commercial entities. In the vacant areas to the north and south of the station along the rail line, he foresees less-dense development, perhaps townhomes.
As it stands, the proposed zoning changes would allow for buildings up to 60 feet in height north of the station and directly around the station. Buildings to the south of the station could only measure up to 35 feet, down from an earlier proposal of 40 feet. Whatever the case, talks continue, and Dandoy said one of the next steps before taking action would be to seek input from the public since private homes surround much of the area.
“We want to work on something that can really address the needs of housing and still reflect your own community,” Holbrook said.
Typically in crafting development plans around FrontRunner stations, UTA works with local officials, seeking input from local UTA advisory reps along with local elected officials. Once the sides reach agreement, UTA will seek formal development proposals from the private sector to carry out development plans. That’s the process UTA officials followed in creating a development plan around the Clearfield FrontRunner station.
The process in Roy could take a couple of years, Dandoy suspects. UTA is in the process of pinpointing where to lay double track along the FrontRunner network to allow for quicker travel, and that could slow efforts to craft a final plan in Roy.