MAPLETON — Frustrated Mapleton residents say they will protest a plan by a developer to use building rights purchased from a Maple Mountain landowner to nearly double the number of homes than can currently be built in neighborhoods on the valley floor.

The City Council will hold a public hearing Wednesday on the use of the Mapleton's transfer of development rights (TDR) ordinance by developer Jim Giles, who hopes to sell 39 lots on 50 acres at about 800 West and 2200 South.

The land is zoned for 2-acre lots; Giles is asking for some lots to be as small as one acre.

"He will use TDRs to get them," City Manager Bob Bradshaw said.

"We expected neighbors, but not that many," said Susan Trapnell, who last year purchased a home on 2.5 acres in the neighborhood with her husband, Brian.

The city, in an effort to keep Maple Mountain free of development, gives TDR certificates to hillside landowners in exchange for the land or for removal of building rights on the land. The landowner can sell the certificates to a developer for about $25,000 each, and developers use them to increase density in neighborhoods despite established zoning.

The Trapnells say they bought their home because they liked the open space, but the Giles project borders their lot and could obstruct some of their view.

The family's home is on a hill with a panoramic view of Utah Valley including the base of Maple Mountain, Hobble Creek Canyon and Utah Lake.

Susan Trapnell said TDRs remove the protection of zoning.

"A city can make one man's property more valuable than another man's property," she said. "Why even have zoning laws? (TDRs) do take property values down." Landowners can obtain five certificates for every hillside lot they give to the city and three certificates if they keep the land but give up their right to build on it. A conservation easement designed to stop hillside growth is placed on the land.

Giles and his Triple Crown of Mapleton LLC development company plans an upscale community with lot prices starting at about $160,000, city planner Mat Evans said. The average lot will measure 1.6 acres and will vary from one acre to two acres, Evans said.

The land is now zoned for agriculture use.

Giles brought the concept before the City Council last fall, which in turn fielded objections from residents who oppose the TDR ordinance because it allows the imposition of greater density anywhere in town. The issue was tabled because of a lack of sewer connections.

City leaders will take another look at the TDR ordinance later this month (JULY) and may begin designating areas where density increases cannot be imposed on established zones, Evans said.

Wednesday's meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 35 E. Maple St.