Common green space might become an integral part of future subdivisions as city officials attempt to keep houses from spreading over every square inch of Provo.
Planners are drafting an ordinance that requires developers to provide open land among homes they build. The Provo Planning Commission will get its first look at the proposal in August.The plan to keep parts of Provo green grew out of a City Council-imposed zoning moratorium prohibiting approval of new subdivisions west of I-15 through December. The Council won't consider new housing developments on the west side until it figures out how to deal with rapid growth in the city's only remaining rural area.
Preserving farmland and promoting access to natural features such as Provo River and Utah Lake are among the goals officials are trying to establish. Planners are mapping open areas to help them determine what to protect. The city also intends to conduct a public survey to help them identify residents' attitudes about green space.
Provo can't keep up with the demand for new water and sewer lines, roads and other essential services. At least 1,500 new homes have been built on former farmland in the past five or six years. And the city has approved another 1,100 building lots, mostly north of the Provo River. The temporary zoning moratorium does not affect those subdivisions.
"My preference on the west side is no more building until we have the infrastructure," Council Chairman Greg Hudnall said at a meeting this week. "I think I'm just a little shell shocked with all the building going on."
Hudnall said he'd just as soon see a golf course built west of 3110 West.
"It isn't just the west side I'm concerned about," Councilman Mark Hathaway said at a meeting this week. "It's the whole city."
Hathaway said he sees problems everywhere and broached the subject of halting home construction citywide.
New homes don't provide enough tax revenue to support new infrastructure, Mayor Lewis Billings said. Although he opposes a property tax increase, Billings said utility fee increases are an acceptable way to pay for those needs. That does more than turning off development for a while, he said.
Just a few years ago, the Council approved nearly every housing development that came along.
The Council ought to decide where Provo's headed before it makes too many plans, said Councilman Paul Warner. The city doesn't have a clear goal in mind, he said. "I think we're being mishmash about it in terms of our approach."
Richard Secrist, community development director, identified storm-drain improvements, an open-space plan and widening of Geneva Road and Center Street as essential for future west-side growth.
The state currently maintains those two roads, but they're likely to be turned over to the city in the future, Billings said. The mayor isn't keen on that unless the state provides money to keep the roads in good repair.