Despite the organized opposition of a citizen's group, the Orem City Council has approved plans for a mall that would bring retail traffic into a residential area.
The residents don't object to the mall, but to the access road the Utah Department of Transportation will require the developer, the Woodbury Corp., to build to ease traffic congestion. The road, Sixth East, will connect 13th and 14th South"The road will run between a nursing home and Hillcrest Elementary School. It will put children and elderly residents in danger, as well as bringing traffic into a residential area," citizen's group spokesman Fred Cain said. At a City Council meeting on March 8, the group had presented arguments and a petition signed by 300 people opposing the road.
The council Tuesday night discussed asking UDOT to allow a partial road, to be extended into a through-street later if CareWest-Orem or Hillcrest Elementary's lots were sold to commercial developers.
"It is unlikely the school and nursing home will stay here forever," Council member Keith Hunt said. "This is a prime retail location. It will get too expensive to stay."
Residents suggested building a road with barriers at the end to restrict use to pedestrians.
"That would be about as useful as no road at all," City Manager Daryl Berlin said. "Even a street that terminated at the mall would not meet the UDOT requirement, so could be rejected. UDOT's main concern is safety, and I doubt that priority will change."
Berlin said that besides the access road, Woodbury would be responsible for a stop light at the newly created Sixth East and 13th South intersection, a median in the middle of 13th South and a new exit from the University Mall.
"I don't know how many of you have tried to get out of that mall during rush hour, but it's almost impossible, and certainly dangerous."
The residents seemed unwilling to compromise, so the council voted toapprovethe original proposal for the mall and access street.
The mall will be located on 13th South, the BYU diagonal, and will have 37,485 square feet in two buildings. Lynn Woodbury, the developer, hopes construction will be complete by October.
Area residents are now considering asking to have 605 East blocked off south of the mall, but council members urged them to wait and see how new traffic patterns develop. Closing roads, they said, could slow emergency crews in case of fires in the area.