Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
American Fork officials have been looking at ways to change parking standards in hopes of causing less congestion in busy areas.

AMERICAN FORK — Getting a bite to eat in American Fork might have just gotten a little easier.

Since the first businesses started opening in The Meadows — a bustling shopping center that has attracted a Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Best Buy, Chili's and Starbucks — officials have been looking at amendments to the city parking standards in hopes of causing less congestion in busy areas and making it easier for others to meet the standards.

"We have been wanting to get this thing more lined up with national standards," said Mayor Heber Thompson.

The old code called for some restrictions that were hard to meet and others that were not requiring enough parking.

"In the instance of restaurants, the new ordinance would require a greater number of parking spots, especially at sit-down places, than has been required in the past," said City Planner Rod Despain. "Those that are uniquely busy do not have sufficient parking under our current plan."

For restaurants, the biggest difference in the plan is the requirement of 20 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet as opposed to the old code, which required one spot for every three seats.

The other big change would reduce the length of a parking stall from 20 feet to 19 feet.

"Our old parking standard was drafted around 20 years ago," said Despain. "The claim is that the cars have gotten smaller, and we don't need quite as much length or quite as wide of an area."

Nearly all of the changes came after consulting national parking standards and comparing the old plan with what was common on a national level.

The City Council wanted to have a plan that provided parking to the areas that needed more, but didn't restrict business too much.

"If there is any question, I would favor less restriction because of the need for commerce," said Councilman Shirl LeBaron.

While the parking plan would not force changes to existing businesses, it would help future businesses address some of the problems they have seen over the years.

The Meadows shopping center becomes very busy during peak times of the day and many American Fork residents avoid the area altogether because of the rush.

"It is always busy here, this place is crazy," said American Fork resident Elizabeth Healey, who frequents several stores in The Meadows. "I sometimes go to Lindon because it is not quite as busy."

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