Voters will decide whether West Layton Village moves forward

Published: Thursday, June 21 2012 8:07 p.m. MDT

An artist's rendering shows how West Layton Village could look if farmland along Hill Field Road is developed.

Layton City

LAYTON — Voters will have the chance to decide whether a Daybreak-like development will be built in west Layton.

Davis County and city officials confirmed Thursday that enough valid signatures were collected to bring plans for West Layton Village to a public vote.

"We're very pleased," said Brian Pead, part of the group Citizens for Responsible Growth in West Layton that spearheaded the effort to put the issue on the ballot.

The group collected more than 6,600 signatures — roughly 1,800 more than required — over a six-week period. About 90 percent of those signatures ended up being valid, Pead said.

Now, the group is assembling volunteers to begin an awareness campaign about West Layton Village and why the 140-acre village center shouldn't move forward as planned for the north and south sides of Hill Field Road between 2200 West and 2700 West.

"We're looking forward to getting the message out about why we did what we did," Pead said.

City officials say the issue likely will be on the ballot in November. If not, a special election could be held in June 2013.

West Layton Village, patterned after the Daybreak community in South Jordan, would feature a mix of residential, commercial, office, civic and recreational uses, following standards set by the city through its new Village Center zone.

On April 5, the Layton City Council approved the zone and applied it to 107 acres of farmland along Hill Field Road currently owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The referendum challenges both those actions.

The other 30-plus acres planned for the project already are zoned for commercial and professional use.

The proposed village center and zoning for it has been in the works for more than two years, city officials said, when the LDS Church contacted city officials about wanting to sell the farmland. Church officials wanted to make sure the land was used for a good purpose, so they began working with Layton city planners on the village center concept.

The property is still owned by the LDS Church, but the West Layton Village project is being developed by the city and its planners, with assistance from consultants jointly hired by the city and Property Reserve Inc., a real-estate arm of the church.

Rather than letting a developer dictate what happens on the property, Layton worked with Property Reserve Inc. to create the Village Center zone, ensuring that anything built there would be pedestrian-oriented and include a mix of uses, highlighted by community gathering places and recreation areas.

"This West Layton Village Center will be one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Layton," Mayor Steve Curtis said in a statement Thursday. "The council and land owner studied this development pattern for two years before adopting the new zoning. This decision was thoughtfully studied by the Planning Commission and City Council, more than any other land planning issue in the history of the city."

But Pead said he doesn't believe city leaders listened to residents who were opposed to the project.

"We felt like we just weren't heard," he said. "This is a chance for us to be heard."

City leaders say they believe residents who fully understand the planning and design of the Village Center zone will support the City Council's action

"The entire City Council supports this planning concept and hopes that Layton's (residents) will seek to understand the benefits of the village center," Councilman Mike Bouwhuis said.

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