Misinformation has been thicker than flies in the little piece of southwest Provo being considered for a redevelopment project, city officials say.
Some property owners and residents in the area think all the buzzing from City Hall is underhanded and Provo will get the redevelopment district whether the people living there want it or not.Tuesday, at the time scheduled for a public hearing on the project, Mayor Joe Jenkins recommended the hearing be postponed for 30 days to give property owners and others an opportunity to get the information necessary to make a decision.
A public hearing is required before a redevelopment project can begin. The 90-acre wedge between I-15 and University Avenue south of about 1100 South is considered an area that could benefit from a redevelopment designation.
The redevelopment designation provides economic incentives for development not possible any other way under Utah law, Jenkins said. But, he said, if the property owners don't want it, the city is not going to "ramrod" it down anyone's throat.
The city's intention in establishing a redevelopment area is to allow for orderly development, Jenkins said. It is a partnership between the city and property owners.
Although the Redevelopment Agency meeting opened and closed without any public comment, people had an opportunity to speak during the period of every City Council meeting devoted to questions and comments from the audience.
The agency's board of directors is the City Council, with the mayor acting as chairman. The council opened the redevelopment hearing long enough for Jenkins to propose holding the hearing a month later and for the board to approve the change. The council meeting then continued with questions and answers.
Many of the people who came prepared to speak at the public hearing expressed anger and frustration at the postponement.
An attorney, Joanne Shields, representing several landowners asked the council to hold the hearing, arguing that landowners feel they have all the information they need and are ready to make a decision.
There is no advantage to the property owners for the 30-day extension, she said.
One of the operating rules for establishing a redevelopment area is the approval of most of the land owners. The percentage is derived from acreage and not from the number of property owners. Shields said 61 percent are opposed.
Two property owners from out of town expressed dissatisfaction with the date change because they traveled to Provo to be at the hearing.
Keith B. Vanderhout, part owner of Laurelwood Estates trailer park, came from Phoenix to participate in the meeting. He took the opportunity to speak publicly to tell his tenants he has no intention of selling Laurel-wood Estates.
He said he had tenants moving out because they thought they would be thrown out soon.
Jenkins said a redevelopment designation would actually help tenants. Relocation, if it becomes necessary, is guided by a set of rules designed to help people move.
The tenants aren't so sure. Mae Dean Shoell, who lives in Laurel-wood Estates, said after the council meeting, "They're dealing with 150 lives (plus the children), but we are not a Monopoly (game) board."
The Provo School Board also discussed the creation of the redevelopment area. Concern was expressed about the schools losing a portion of the property taxes from the area for 25 years and concern about the possible displacement of people.
But school board Chairman David Weight summarized the board's position by stating a need for additional information and deciding the board will make no statement for or against the redevelopment area at this time.