The City Council has voted to open the way for a parcel of land near the I-15 Center Street exit to be used eventually for highway services - fast-food restaurants and other convenience outlets for travelers.
The piece of land could also be used for a commuter parking lot.After postponing the decision a couple of weeks ago, the council agreed to alter the city's master plan but not change the zoning at a corner bordered by 1200 West and Center Street to allow traveler-friendly businesses.
City Manager Daryl Berlin told the council that changing the master plan shows intent to change the zoning in the future - something which is not attractive to some adjacent landowners.
But the city has another idea for the property that would appease owners of the property and the neighbors who are worried about the changes that a highway services zone might bring.
"It looks like we have a satisfactory solution to both parties in the `park and ride' idea," Councilman Keith Hunt said. A park and ride area is simply a parking area for commuters who want to carpool. It could also provide the site of a future Utah Transit Authority bus stop for commuters.
Mike Baxter, representing Hoyt Baxter, who owns the property, called the park and ride plan, "a workable solution."
Now the ball is in the city's court, Baxter said. If nothing is done to create the parking lot in the next few months, the Baxters can at least petition the city again for a change in zoning.
"We just want our father to be able to sell his property," Mike Baxter said. And, as it stands now, it is by no means fit for residential zoning.
Another solution the council had discussed that was acceptable by the surrounding neighborhoods was to allow professional buildings to be constructed on the lots.
Councilman James Evans said he drove by the lot and asked himself, if he were a doctor or dentist, would he locate there? "The answer was no."
The only answer seems to be to allow highway services or build a parking lot, Evans said. "I think we should make the parking lot."
Representing the residents of the area, Mike Seamons said the neighbors will abide by whatever the council decides, but they are still very much against the change to highway services.
However, the parking lot would be acceptable, he said.
Councilwoman Joyce W. Johnson said she would just as soon see everything changed now.
"I have seen this come back to the council for years," Johnson said. Something should be decided now rather than letting it come back again and again.
Berlin indicated that it could take anywhere from four to six months for the land to be purchased and then the council could take it from there.
Orem Mayor S. Blaine Willes said if the property is eventually made into a parking lot, there should be a stipulation to include a "Welcome to Orem" sign because it is a gateway to the city.