An organized group of citizens can make a difference.
A coalition of concerned residents in the vicinity of 1200 W. Center St. has caused the Orem City Council to postpone a decision to alter the city's master plan.The council was scheduled to decide whether to rezone four plots of land, which presently contain two houses, into an area of highway services, a special zoning that allow commercial development near a major road.
Councilman Keith Hunt said about the residents who attended the meeting, "These people are in a volatile area, and they have had to come in to see us every two or three years."
The council needs to make some sort of lasting decision about the area, Hunt said.
The request for the master plan change came from Hoyt Baxter, a longtime resident on the southeast corner of 1200 W. Center Street.
"It is the only corner of the intersection that is still residential," said Mike Baxter, who was representing his father.
Something must be put on the land that will complement the existing businesses, he said.
Although area residents would agree to a professional building or something similar, Baxter does not believe that is feasible.
He said no market exists for that type of construction at that location. Professionals want to locate near other professionals.
Representing the residents, Larry Field said, "We don't think there is a valid reason to amend the city's master plan."
Field said residents of surrounding neighborhoods believed the area was to be a buffer zone between themselves and the commercial developments around the I-15 freeway exits.
Neighbors submitted petitions with more than 100 signatures of Orem residents who oppose the change.
Field said the residents are not against development, and there are other options for the area rather than changing it to highway services.
"We are also concerned with the types of establishments that will show up there," Field said. Increased traffic, as well as the hours of the establishments and the type of people who would frequent them are also of concern.
Another resident, Spencer Cottam, asked where the rezoning would stop.
There are other undeveloped areas in his neighborhood, Cottam said. "If one area gets rezoned, won't the others expect the same treatment?"
Other residents supported Baxter, saying he has a right to sell his property and that development will occur regardless.
"The change would make a wonderful gateway to Orem," said Orem resident LaDell Gillman.
The council is concerned about the area because of proposed development at Utah Valley Community College, for which 1200 West is a major collector road.
Hunt suggested that the council postpone any decisions until it can ascertain the potential traffic problems and think about the other issues.
The decision will come before the council again at its Feb. 26 meeting.