Layton voters to decide whether to overturn Village Center zoning code
Officials envision the future West Layton Village Center as a vibrant, walkable neighborhood that offers a healthy mix of homes, shops, businesses, recreation and government offices.
But some residents see a jarring mishmash of uses, which they contend would take away the rural feel of the area at 2200 West and Hill Field Road and would increase density, pollution and traffic problems.
"It's so loosely designed we could have as many as 800 apartments on 100 acres," resident Brian Pead said. "They want to make an urban center and take away our rural center."
Pead and other opponents have formed a group called Citizens for Responsible Growth in West Layton and gathered enough signatures on a referendum petition to put the issue to a vote at the Nov. 6 general election. They are asking citizens to overturn City Council decisions approving a general plan designation of a Village Center in West Layton and a new Village Center zoning code.
Citizens for Responsible Growth said the policy change creating an urban community is a "significant departure" from a plan recommended by community members and approved by a previous council for the primarily rural area.
The old zoning code was based on type of use and density, with each area having distinctive uses that were separated and complementary, the group said in a press release.
"Under this new code, there is no separation of uses; rather it is an assortment of mixed uses that is nothing like anything else in the city," the release said.
City officials counter that the Village Center code will create a sustainable neighborhood with amenities and housing choices that are attractive to families, young married couples, single professionals and empty nesters.
"This West Layton Village Center will be one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Layton," Mayor Steve Curtis said in a written statement.
The property at the center of the dispute is 107 acres of agricultural land along West Hill Field Road between 2200 West and 2700 West and about 32 acres north of that parcel. The 107-acre piece is owned by Property Reserve Inc. (PRI), a subsidiary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has been farming there. The other acreage is already zoned commercial and professional business.
The city's land use plan had identified the land in 2001 as an ideal location for a Village Center, according to Bill Wright, Layton Community & Economic Development director. In 2009, when the landowners started considering developing their property, the city decided to further define the village center concept, he said.
With the participation of PRI and national consulting firm PlaceMakers, Layton developed a "Smart Code" that addresses the design of public spaces and the relationship of private buildings to the public realm, such as how close they can sit to the sidewalk. The City Council held hearings on the code and made significant changes based on the public input, such as reducing the number of apartment buildings allowed per block, Wright said.
Council members voted unanimously in April to adopt the Village Center designation and zoning code and to rezone 107 acres.
PRI which will not be the developer of the acreage supports the council action, saying it will allow for "the most responsible and orderly management and disposition of the property."
But Pead said no traffic or economic viability studies have been conducted and he fears the Village Center will end up with a lot of empty buildings. The referendum, he said, is a way to create a dialogue.
"Development will come," Pead said. "We'd like to see a far-reaching view of that. There's just a lot of factors that weren't addressed."
Layton residents will cast ballots in the Nov. 6 general election on whether to overturn two decisions by the City Council that created a Village Center zone at 2200 West and Hill Field Road. For more information, visit the Layton city website at http://www.westlaytonvillage.org/ and the Citizens for Responsible Growth in West Layton's website at http://www.westlaytonvillage.info.