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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Children from the Young Explorers Day Care scurry along Main Street in Pleasant Grove on their way Thursday to the city park.

PLEASANT GROVE — After months of debate and reworking, Pleasant Grove has adopted a downtown 2020 action plan that it hopes will create an aesthetically pleasing downtown.

The original 2020 plan was drafted by city staff months ago, but people came out in droves to several community meetings earlier in the year to make sure their voices were heard before the plan was implemented. What resulted was the creation of a Downtown Advisory Board that was given the opportunity to recommend changes to the plan.

A main change the board suggested when it finished reviewing the plan in early June was making sure that the height of buildings is appropriate for mixed-business and residential areas. Another main suggestion is to require corresponding setbacks depending on the height of the buildings.

"We worked really hard to come to some sort of compromise that protects the residents of downtown and yet encourages developers to come in and risk money to make our downtown nicer," Downtown Advisory Board chairwoman Laurel Backman Riddle said.

The board came to a conclusion that the appropriate maximum height of buildings in the area would be 48 feet, with buildings up to 60 feet allowed if approved through a conditional-use permit process. Those numbers differ from the current city ordinance that sets a 55-foot maximum and up to 80 feet. After reviewing the board's recommendation, city staff felt that 55 feet, and up to 68 conditionally, made more sense, allowing for a four- or five-story building.

While the numbers differ from what the board recommended, city staff felt that their numbers were a fair compromise.

"So this is actually a recommendation to reduce the current heights, and even though the 55 is a little higher than some would like to see, it is still overall lower than what is currently allowed," Pleasant Grove Community Development Director Ken Young told the City Council this week.

The majority of the debate that ensued was over whether or not the height limits should be included in a broader document about the vision of downtown. Mayor Mike Daniels seemed to agree with a recommendation to just include those numbers in the ordinance, which would also give the council more time to decide which of the three options was best.

"It does seem like this is a very specific item, with very specific numbers involved with it, whereas everything else in the plan has been more general in nature," Daniels said. "This appears to be more ordinance-related."

But a suggestion from the city attorney that if the heights were extremely important, their inclusion in the plan would make them more permanent than they would be in a city ordinance, seemed to sway the council into keeping the staff-recommended numbers as part of the plan.

The council unanimously approved the plan after more than an hour of discussion among itself, city staff and the public.

Still to be determined is what the setbacks will be for corresponding heights.

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