Residents unhappy with proposed zoning changes say Alpine is being turned into an exclusive enclave most people cannot afford.

But Planning Commission members say the goal of the changes is to stem growth that the city's infrastructure is incapable of handling.About 40 residents turned out Friday night for a public hearing on proposed changes. After more than a year a study, the Planning Commission is proposing that a band of property ringing the city be zoned for one-acre minimum lot sizes.

The current minimum is a half-acre.

The proposed one-acre zone is modified by a slope ordinance: As the steepness of slope increases, so does the minimum lot size, while the percent of the lot that can be built on decreases. For example, to build on a lot with a 25 degree or more slope, a property owner must have two acres and can build on only 15 percent of the lot.

The slope ordinance is designed to prevent cut-and-fill building and erosion problems along the foothills.

During its meeting Tuesday, the Planning Commission will draft final zone-change recommendations for the City Council to consider. The Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

The proposed change is actually a compromise from an early plan that called for several areas in Alpine to be zoned for five-acre-minimum lot sizes. Only Fort Canyon will continue to have the five-acre minimum.

Planning Commission Chairman James W. Johnston also noted that a map previously sent out erroneously showed the area between Grove Drive and Fort Canyon as being in the new one-acre zone; it is not. That area remains zoned for half-acre lots.

Johnston said Alpine's explosive growth threatens the capabilities of the city's sewer and water systems. In 1990, the city issued around 75 building permits for single-family homes, an increase of about 50 percent over 1989.

"It doesn't show any signs of letting up," Johnston said.

The city estimated in 1990 that it would cost $8 million to improve the sewer system to handle the growth demand, Johnston said. The current system can accommodate growth up to a population of about 12,000; Alpine now has 3,500 residents.

But trying to slow growth by requiring larger minimum lot sizes around the perimeter of the city "smacks of pride," one woman said. "It makes it impossible for the good old boy to build here," she added.

Other residents said the acre requirement would make it impossible for residents' children to settle in the city, while others complained that it costs just as much to water one acre as it does two half-acres. And one large property owner said the change would pack a negative financial wallop.

However, the proposed zone change found favor with some residents, including one who said allowing the city to be parceled into smaller lots, thus accommodating a larger population, would destroy its ambience.

In that scenario, "You don't have Alpine," he said. "You have West Jordan."


The pro and the cons

Proponents of requiring that building lots in areas of Alpine be at least one acre say:

- The city's growth stresses its water and sewer systems.

- 75 building permits for single-family homes were issued in 1990, far more than in 1989.

- Smaller lots would destroy the city's ambience.

Opponents to the zone change say:

- The larger lot sizes would make living in Alpine unaffordable for many people.

- Not that much water would be saved - it takes as much water for one acre of lawn as two half-acres of lawn.


Top priorities for coming year

What's going to be happening in Alpine during the coming year? According to City Council members, the following are top priorities:

- Develop a plan for installing street lights.

- Develop a "paper trail" for tracking water, sewer and road projects.

- Update the city's zoning ordinance.

- Develop the city's street master plan.

- Continue on Moyle and Burgess Park.

- Build a storage shed at the city cemetery.

- Build a bandstand at City Park.

- Install backflow valves at the cemetery.

- Develop recreational programs for Alpine and Highland.