Brigham Young University and Provo City officials are calling a spat over the university's plans to build married-student housing units a "misunderstanding."
The university will, however, build 80 units rather than 136 rental units on its property at 900 E. 1750 North, BYU officials said Thursday.Both BYU and Provo acknowledge the 80-unit complex will do little to alleviate the shortage of married-student housing units in Utah County. Dee Andersen, BYU administrative vice president, is asking private developers to help resolve the housing shortage.
And Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins is calling on other cities to address the need for multiple-housing units.
Andersen has met with Jenkins and City Council Chairman Stephen D. Clark to discuss the city's concerns about BYU's proposed project.
Although Jenkins had been kept apprised of the project, it "apparently was a surprise to at least one or two of the council members," Andersen said.
"I think we really have a good relationship with the city," he said. "It's just a question of some City Council members not understanding."
Council members objected to the project because they believe university-supported units will upset the rental market.
"The time is long past when 80 units at BYU is going to have that great an impact on the total economy," said Paul C. Richards, BYU spokesman. "The economy is bigger than that now, and to say that we are artificially holding down rental rates with this small number of units is totally incongruous with the facts of the situation."
Provo Council members also are concerned about increased traffic congestion in northeast Provo and said schools in the area may be burdened by children of married students living in the apartments.
But Andersen said the amount of traffic that will be generated by building housing on the property will be much less than if an academic building were placed there.
Married-student housing is "one of the lowest traffic generators you can have on a campus," according to Richards, who said having students located within walking distance of the campus would cut traffic congestion and pollution.
The city's reaction was particularly surprising because BYU was responding to a call for help issued by a group of community agencies last March, Andersen said.