PROVO The developer asked for two more weeks, but the City Council still held a public hearing Tuesday night on the heated proposal to rezone agricultural land in southwest Provo to make way for a new subdivision.
Anderson Development, which has filed two lawsuits against Provo over previous denials by the city of its plans to develop what is known as the Radio Tower property, asked for and got another two weeks to complete its proposal. The council agreed to consider the issue again on Dec. 18.
The proposal so far calls for the council to rezone about half of the 34-acre property, leaving the southwest quadrant for a future rezone request. The developer is asking for a zone that would allow lots as small as 8,000 square feet. The council and the neighborhood had been considering rezoning the property to require lots of 15,000 or 10,000 square feet.
"The average lot size currently being discussed is 9,300 square feet," Anderson attorney Eric Bawden said.
Neighbors continue to be concerned about the high water table because the property is near Utah Lake and wetlands, but traffic is the biggest concern.
Neighborhood chairman Terry Herbert said the majority of the 42 residents who attended a neighborhood meeting in September when Anderson Development presented its proposal opposed it, but generally because of the timing with regard to construction of new roads.
Most believe the city needs to build wider roads in the neighborhood before further development adds traffic to the area. Neighbors believe traffic now is unsafe and that in the case of an emergency, the three roads out of the neighborhoods would be so clogged that residents wouldn't be able to get out and emergency crews wouldn't be able to get in.
The problem is exacerbated because two of the roads in and out bottleneck at underpasses or viaducts under I-15.
"My concern is we don't get the cart before the horse," resident Earl Long said. "If the infrastructure is put in first, I and a lot of the neighbors would go along with the development, but that has to be a priority."
Each of the six neighbors who spoke during Tuesday night's public hearing repeated a similar refrain.
"It's been a timing issue," Cheryl Taylor said. "I think it still is a timing issue. There already has been growth, and traffic has increased. A lot more traffic is going out those little viaducts."
Help does appear to be on the way.
"The city is involved in a multimillion-dollar effort to create a comprehensive west-side transportation structure," Mayor Lewis Billings said.
That plan would include what is called a west-side connector, which would be a high-speed road between the Provo airport and the I-15 /University Avenue interchange. The City Council is pushing for consideration of a road that would go from the airport north along the lake west of all the current development and attach to Geneva Road near Orem.
And the city is working with the Utah Department of Transportation to add a frontage road along I-15 when it is widened and to widen Geneva Road.
With all of that in the pipeline or expected, Billings said adding 72 homes is worthwhile, especially because Anderson Development is willing to provide the city $60,000 to pay for curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements in the neighborhood in front of homes that already exist. That's money those homeowners wouldn't have to spend.
"This might be a wonderful windfall opportunity for a lot of people," Billings said.
The mayor's position was that his administration would support no additional development until the potential roads were in place.
Long and others also believe Anderson's development should wait."What is the real hurry to put this subdivision in? Let's see if the (roads are) put in first. The promise will be made, yeah, but we'd like to see it first."