Draper's transit area OK'd

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 4 2008 12:12 a.m. MST

DRAPER — The sky is the limit for new buildings in a new transit-oriented district near Bangerter Highway, and there will be no cap on how many people can live there.

The City Council approved zoning Tuesday that allows for unlimited heights and densities in an effort to persuade the Utah Transit Authority to locate a commuter rail stop in the city.

City officials have been pushed over the past month to make a decision so UTA could reformulate its design for the stop, which had been planned for a location farther south in Bluffdale. Construction of the rail line that will stretch into Utah County started earlier this summer.

"I think we have a great opportunity to have a very exciting, very beneficial project," said Councilman Jeff Stenquist, who has worked closely with the developers.

The proposed Draper stop could end up in either of two locations. One, managed by the Whitewater VII corporation, sits on the north near the Galena Hills neighborhood and could contain Native American archeological artifacts.

The other location is bordered by Bangerter Highway on the south and the Jordan River on the west. The 221 acres there were once part of the Utah State Prison property and has been used as a dumping ground. In 1999, the land was designated as perpetual open space by the Legislature.

The southern spot, which is owned by the Utah Division of Natural Resources, is larger and is favored by both Whitewater and the council. Trading the Whitewater land for the state-owned open space could require action by the Legislature, said Whitewater attorney Robert McConnell.

The disparity between the available land versus the preferred land caused Draper Councilwoman Stephanie Davis to vote against the zone change. She believes a project to the north would be far inferior, she said.

Three other council members voted for the zone change after the ordinance was amended to require an economic analysis and snow removal plan plus a minimum 100-foot buffer between the development and existing neighborhoods.

"I think this is a good compromise," Stenquist said. "Rather than being reactive to requests I think this council has shown a vision for a wonderful opportunity."

Last month council members took a trip to Texas at UTA's expense to tour transit-oriented projects. Whitewater VII representatives tagged along and have been integral to discussions about the zone change.

Their project will have to be revenue-neutral for Draper, but could receive public funding in the form of deferred property taxes or waived impact fees.

If the project doesn't move forward within a year, the zone change will be nullified. In the meantime, the council and private developer will hold public meetings about funding and design.

To read a copy of the zone change ordinance or to hear a recording of the meeting, visit www.draper.ut.us.


E-mail: rpalmer@desnews.com

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