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Hyrum denies Elk Mountain’s request to build twin homes

February 12th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By April Ashland

HYRUM–It was a unanimous decision to deny the proposed change to Elk Mountain’s Phase One from 25 single family units to 25 twin houses at the Planning Commission’s meeting Thursday.

On the agenda was a public hearing and a talk from Elk Mountain contractor Royce Yorgason.

Adam Mackelprang said he was against the proposal because he was concerned about population density, especially around the elementary school.

“This high density stuff is being crammed down our throats,” Mackelprang said.

More than one person was concerned about the density, and the traffic going in and out. But a concern voiced as often or more was the worry that making these houses into more affordable houses would lower the quality of the neighborhood and the people who lived there.

Chad Bethers said the types of places the contractor and developer are looking at creating have a lower standard of living. “We already have places with drive-by shootings in Hyrum, and around the school zone we need tighter regulations,” Bethers said.

“The last thing I want is for this to turn into a place where those kind of people congregate, especially across from the school,” Mackelprang said.

Yorgason said it was the goal of the developer and contractor to make the houses as nice as possible while having the best quality they can. “We want to continue to have Elk Mountain be sustainable and affordable. We have two options, to lower the quality of products, which is the worst idea, and makes the houses look bad, or to have upper end quality, with some features that are affordable,” Yorganson said.

Alissa Weller said she lives in Wasatch View and she and her husband moved from Smithfield to get away from the density problem. She said she want Hyrum to be protected as it is. “I want us to protect the rural feel we have. On the Wasatch Front developers filled in the fields with as many units as possible. I don’t want this to be the Wasatch Front,” she said.

Friend Weller, her husband, also spoke. He said he had a friend who bought a duplex near Greenville Elementary built in the early 1980’s. He said now most of those houses are rentals.

“My wife and I rented for years, I have nothing against people who rent; we need to look at the number of people that would be living there.” he said. “It reminds me of a song, called Get ’em out by Friday. At the end it says, ‘If there’s a way so we can genetically engineer people to be shorter we can fit twice as many in.'”

Kristen Allssop said she loves the Wasatch Front, but she feels like the developers only care about the money. “Developers have one goal in mind–their bottom line, more money. We want to keep Hyrum in mind. It would be a huge mistake to let it go,” Allssop said.

Marco Reed stood up and said he moved to Hyrum from Orem, and that he has seen what higher populations can do to an area. “The FBI says there are two factors to crime rate–increase in density and a lower economic status,” he said. “If we increase density, we will decrease the economic status. I don’t want to open the door and invite crime to stick it’s foot in and take root.”

Mary Sibert said she lives on 1170 East, and she and her husband built a home two years ago. She said they liked the openness of the area. She said she was concerned about the streetlights in Hyrum, and was worried there would need to be more. She also said people couldn’t know what would happen with the area. “It’s not that I’m against affordable housing, but we worked hard for our homes. We should keep it that way,” she said.

Bob Sibert said he was concerned about what the neighborhood would really be like. “When development started, we saw ads that showed it was elderly folks, had a swimming pool, it was a nice setup. I’d like to see it put back to what it was,” he said.

Yorgason said the plans would not be reverted to the original idea of a retirement area, because it was impossible to fence and gate the area, and it wasn’t practical, which is why the area has been changed to an area for families.

Weller said he was concerned about the quality of the appearance of the division if the proposal was approved. He said one of the risks with duplexes is that the owner of one side wants to paint the house purple, and the owner of the other side wants to keep it conservative, and that causes problems.

Yorgason said that problem would be taken care of by the Homeowner’s Association in the development. “Every five to seven years all the homes would be repainted. This is covered by the Homeowner’s Association, which would help with roof repair, painting exterior, and other things,” Yorgason said.

“Another problem that causes problems is the care of the front yard. In the development, professional landscaping is mandatory, and we require a fence between houses,” Yorgason said. “The back yard would be the owner’s responsibility.”

Commission member Scot Allgood asked Yorgason if the new plan was not approved, would he use lower quality products on the houses being built, and Yorgason talked around the question.

“In these times, you have two choices. Make one good, high quality product or you can cut cost, but you can only cut cost so much. Then you have to go bankrupt or cut quality.” Yorgason said.

The commission closed the public hearing, and asked Yorgason questions about the buildings, the lots, and the other phases of the project.

Commission member Dave Bennett said the project was originally approved because it had appeal. There were different types of homes as well as open space, and was concerned about damaging that balance.

“We appreciate the attention to detail for sustainability and the homeowners association,” Bennett said. “I’m greatly concerned with the higher traffic this new plan would bring, the greater density. I think if we approve this we’re gonna see you back on phases two, three and four wanting to do the same thing.”

Allgood made the motion to deny recommendation on the plan as shown because it violated the principal of why it was originally approved, and the vote was unanimous.

Yorgason asked the commission for recommendations to make better plans, and asked when the soonest he could present again would be, and Chairman Steven Sproul said Yorgason could present at the next scheduled commission meeting in March.

The commission also held an election for chairman and vice chairman of the commission. Sproul was elected chairman for the second time, and Jeff Nelsen was elected vice chairman.


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