The City Council thought that stringent development standards would help 13th South grow into "an elegant and beautiful entrance to the city," but they were told Tuesday night that standards are stunting the area's growth.
Marion Higbee, a board member of the Commission for Economic Development in Orem, said the city's requirements make it too expensive for businesses to build on 13th South, also known as the BYU diagonal."As an organization charged by this council to help with economic development, we (CEDO board members) have found the restrictions to be barriers to economic growth in this area. Businesses do not move in, and the city loses revenue it could have had.
"We need to do what we can as a city to encourage economic growth, which will increase the tax base and create jobs for our citizens."
CEDO officials hoped to convince the council to decrease the setback required between a business and a residence from 40 to 20 feet. They recommended the setback for parking be reduced from 25 feet to 20, and landscaping requirements for parking lots be lessened.
CEDO also proposed eliminating the requirement for a tree every 30 feet in certain areas, and eliminating shrub and ground-cover standards for certain areas. Officials suggested Orem delete a section of the master plan requiring 13th South parking lots be screened by a row of trees.
"All of us would like to have it attractive there, but space on a road from the highway is expensive," said DeLance Squire, CEDO executive director. "For a buyer to pay so much for land that is not used, but is required for setback, is very hard.
"You councilmen have chided us about businesses we lost to other areas. Well, their restrictions just aren't there compared to what we're doing."
City Councilman Keith Hunt spoke of the public hearings and many discussions the council had before making the original recommendations.
"The idea was that 13th South should be special," he said. "It was supposed to be elegant _ not like State Street or some other areas. It was supposed to be an elegant and beautiful entrance to the city.
"We understood not all businesses would be willing to live under our tight restrictions. We knew it would not fill up right away."
"I remember that too," Councilman Paul Washburn said. "But basically, no one has been interested in locating in the area. The restrictions have been so excessive, there is no interest at all."
CEDO and city officials are collecting more information on the problem. Discussion will continue in future council meetings, Mayor Blaine Willes said.
Input file was /asst/csi/0713/pass2/0007 Output file was /asst/csi/0713/pass3/0019