LAYTON -- A citizens group, Residents for West Layton Village, is working to educate voters about a city-supported "village concept" in hopes it will be approved.
The group of about 100 members is in opposition to residents who raised objections at public hearings to a proposed 107-acre multi-use project consisting of single-family and multifamily dwellings, shopping and open space. The project is proposed for a site between 2200 West to 2700 West on West Hill Field Road.
Layton voters will have their say on the development via two related propositions on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
One proposition affirms the zoning that would be needed for such a development; the other allows the city to use the zoning on this particular project.
A voter information meeting about the project will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Layton High School auditorium, 440 Wasatch Drive.
All sides are to be represented at the information-only meeting.
The farmland is currently owned by Property Reserves Inc., a subsidiary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The citizens group supporting the village center code believes it will give the city a tool to better manage the project and prevent big-box stores from being placed on the property, said Chad Harward, a Layton business owner who is serving as spokesmen for Residents for West Layton Village.
"It's not about saving farms," he said. "That is where development is going anyway."
Group members hope to educate residents. They would like voters to support the two ballot propositions, which would provide the code to develop the land in a fashion similar to the Station Park project in Farmington, Harward said.
"We are in favor of something new," he said of the group wanting to avoid the traditional one-third-acre residential lots that are difficult to sell in the current market.
"Those days are gone."
Through education, the group hopes to reach those individuals who may mistakenly believe the property will remain as farmland, Harward said, when in fact the choice actually comes down to how the property will be developed after it is sold.
"I would rather have some sort of influence over what the project will end up looking like. Mandating common space, walking trails, pocket parks and water features are just a few of the amenities we can realistically see in this project."
In September, less than a day after citizen-driven petitions were judged to have enough signatures to put the propositions before voters, the city council placed the land initiatives on the general election ballot.
West Layton resident Brian Pead has been a vocal opponent of creating the zone that would allow for the development.
"We are looking at (the city) creating a heavy concentration of people," he said of the project that could bring 500 to 700 apartments to west Layton.
"When you have that many people together, you have crime," said Pead, who has lived in the area for eight years.
"We think there is a safety issue here that is huge."
The group opposing the zoning and project is also concerned about the negative impact the project would have on traffic and area schools, Pead said.
"You bring that in there, you are going to plug every single arterial in the city," he said.
Those speaking out against the project, Pead said, have been treated like "vagabonds, criminals and radicals" and kind of laughed at, until presenting the city with petitions of 6,500 signatures, more than enough to get the propositions on the ballot.
Part of the city's master plan has been to have a commercial node in that section of the city, which is expected to reduce some of the traffic now moving west to east in the city, said Layton Mayor Steve Curtis.
The city recently received a national award from the American Planning Association for its innovative planning of neighborhoods specifically related to this proposed project, Curtis said.
"The conscientious use of the land cannot be ignored," he said.
But Curtis is frustrated by what he refers to as the gossip train. Those opposing the project are disseminating misinformation about the zone and project, he said.
"The misinformation is misleading a lot of the people. That is why involvement by the community is important."