West Valley considers measure to add variety to new houses

Published May 14, 2014 6:52 pm

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West Valley City • City officials are exploring new standards aimed at ensuring aesthetic variety in new housing construction.

Steve Pastorik, West Valley City planning director, suggested updating regulations so that every new home does not appear as a "featureless box."

"The purpose of our point system," he said, "is having some design features so everything's not very plain and flat, basically."

This, he said, requires varying the types of materials used in the exterior of a house or changing the lines of the roof — anything to create interest and add visual diversity to a neighborhood.

Pastorik hopes to focus the efforts on new single-family housing, not attempt to apply the guidelines to high-density apartments. He presented three options — each stricter than the last — that would apply standards to the roughly 200 new houses built each year in West Valley.

"Compared to other cities, we have pretty aggressive standards right now," Pastorik said.

Measures discussed by the council would include policies for rezoning applications, lot-size requirements, partnerships with developers, neighborhood amenities such as parks and trails and use of vacant land in built-out areas.

"A majority seemed to agree with" a larger standard lot size — one-quarter acre, up from the current one-fifth acre, Pastorik said.

Councilman Steve Vincent worries the standards could drive up housing costs, but said variation in the façades of homes in West Valley is necessary.

Mormon pioneer leader "Brigham Young came in and we have these square lots and they're not very interesting, but it's easier for developers to lay out," Vincent said. "Bring us something interesting that's different from straight streets and square lots."

There are roughly 1,000 acres left in the 23,000-acre city suitable for development of single-family homes, Pastorik said.

The West Valley City Council hopes to discuss the options more and hear from citizens and developers before making any decisions.