The Orem City Planning Commission is considering recommending a change in the city's master plan to allow a proposed research and technology park in a northeast Orem neighborhood.
But residents are organizing to fight the plan.The proposal calls for a zone change to allow land currently zoned as low-density residential and land housing Orem's municipal golf course to be used for the business park. Orem would also incorporate 27 acres of county land.
Utah Power and Light and Canyon Technologies Park Associates, the entities that want to build the 154-acre park, are looking at an area just north of Osmond Studios - from 8th North to about 14th North and 1150 East to roughly 15th East.
The park would be similar in design and use to Timpanogos Research and Technology Park, developers said. Clients would be technology firms and some "clean," light-assembly businesses. Developers plan for the park to have a "quiet, campus-like atmosphere," a UP&L spokesman said. The park could house as many as 30 businesses, depending on the size lots required by each.
But residents in surrounding neighborhoods say they never would have moved in if the city's master plan hadn't shown their area as remaining low density residential. They took the city at its word, they say, and the city's word wasn't worth the paper the master plan was written on.
"All of us relied on the master plan while making our decision to locate here," said resident Alan Lambson at a recent Planning Commission meeting. "We don't care how `campus-like' the park is. We built there for a reason, because we knew the kind of lives we wanted and we trusted Orem to keep its word. I hope this group and the City Council will not prove us foolish in our trust."
Resident Ken Fakler agreed.
"Prostituting the master plan will be letting an awful lot of good Orem citizens down."
Bill Peperoni, resident and urban planner, said his calculations showed such a park would increase traffic 106 percent. That would be an inconvenience to all residents as well as a safety hazard to children in the area.
Darrell Martin, another resident, said even if only light electronics assembly were allowed in the park, there would be danger from trucks and chemicals.
Others in attendance said they felt Orem was letting them down and trying to "rubber-stamp" the project before citizens could organize to fight it. Several residents said they felt they were being "railroaded," and one accused Orem of following a pattern of keeping citizens uninformed.
Stewart Taylor, assistant city manager, said in a interview that Orem wasn't trying to keep citizens in the dark.
"Three times a year, we accept proposals to change the master plan," Taylor said Monday. "Some are approved, some aren't. This is the very beginning of the process, and there will be several public hearings before final decisions are made. Citizens are encouraged to bring up their views and concerns at all public hearings."
If the project is ultimately approved, benefits to Orem city and residents would include property tax revenue and more jobs and money from the sale or lease of city land currently being used for the golf course. There are no definite plans concerning a replacement golf course, Taylor said.
The discussion begun in the last meeting will continue at the next Planning Commission meeting, May 3. The public is invited to attend. If the commission approves the rezoning proposal, it will be forwarded to the Redevelopment Agency, then the City Council for consideration. The Redevelopment Agency and City Council are staffed by the same people.