Map of the area for proposed Patterson Constructions townhouses, south of Smith's in north Lehi. Patterson is seeking a change of zoning from commercial to high density residential for the project. | Courtesy Lehi City

In the Lehi City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 14, the City Council Chambers room was full, as was the foyer, as residents came prepared to discuss and seek either approval or denial of several emotion-filled projects.

The project which drew the most comments was the Dixon/Ivory Ridge concept plan. A General Plan Amendment was also presented to allow for the development of the 66-unit residential development located at 3200 North 300 West. Ivory Development was the petitioner. The 9.3-acre parcel is currently the Dixon mink farm.

Over two hours of comments were made by residents of the area. Most of the comments were in favor of the Ivory Development. Before comments were made, Mayor Mark Johnson talked about the importance of property rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. “I will do everything to protect property rights,” Johnson stated.

Brad Mackay, the representative for Ivory Development spoke to the group, “This is a labor of love for all of us. I appreciate the Lehi Planning staff. We have been to six DRC (Development Review Committee meetings) and met with the neighbors. The original concept was denied so we wanted to look at all ideas. We believe this concept plan meets all the requests and concerns.”

In the public hearing portion of the item, over 15 residents spoke for and against the zoning change and the concept plan. In calculations made by Council member Paul Hancock, there were two to three times more comments in favor of the project than opposed. Some of the comments in favor of the project were, “The mink are a nuisance,” “We will be able to have brighter street lights because they won’t have to be dimmed because of consideration of the mink. I won’t have to blow the flies out of my garage.” “If Chris, Paul, and Paige hadn’t voted against the first concept, we wouldn’t have the improvements.” “I think this is a desirable plan.” “I think this is a right fit for the community.” “This will bring in more diversity.” “I want new families in and the present operation out.” “If you don’t like growth, you better move.” “I haven’t seen a plan better than this.”

Those opposed to the development said, “The additional traffic is substantial. It is not as safe as it should be.” “I think the safety and integrity of the neighborhood should be maintained.” “This plan does not solve the traffic problems.” “I would love to get rid of the mink, but the property rights argument is a false premise. The need to have your price met is a white lie.” “We chose to live next to the mink farm rather than high density. This is bait and switch. The issue is the value of the land and where are my property rights?” “I am against Ivory getting special consideration. Just because they say they need this to pencil doesn’t give the right to increase density.”

Mink ranch owner Dixon spoke to the Council explaining that things have changed a lot since they bought land here. “The VLDR zoning was for me and my ranch. I believe we have been a good neighbor. I have never been written up for an infraction. I don’t want to make my neighbors mad. It isn’t fun to raise mink in Lehi anymore,” Dixon concluded.

Councilman Condie asked, “Why this density? My role is not to guarantee that something pencils out.”

Mackay explained, “This is not a windfall for Ivory. We are having problems selling lots to the west because of the mink farm. We are also having problems selling homes because of the economy. Home sales have slowed down quite a bit.”

Councilmember Southwick said, “The Dixons have been the victims in this. We appreciate you. You were there first, but this is something we need to do.”

Councilmember Albrecht said, “We don’t re-zone because of what a developer needs to pencil to make it work. Why do it now? As a member of the Planning Commission for three years, we paid a lot of attention where we put high and low density. I haven’t heard anyone say this would be best practice. Dixons don’t want to be here, residents don’t want them here, but this is not compelling enough to override the concerns of residents who think this is a bait and switch.”

Councilmember Hancock gave his justification, “Agriculture is not congruent with this area. This does not fit in. I have little or no concern about this being precedent setting. This is a unicorn kind of situation.”

Councilmember Revill added, “All the arguments against this project have been answered. There will be increased safety, more lighting. We have the responsibility of zoning what is appropriate. Getting rid of the mink will have a positive effect on home values.”

Revill made the motion to approve. Condie, Southwick, Hancock and Revill voted “yes” while Albrecht voted “no.”

The other request that generated opposition was Patterson Construction’s request for a General Plan amendment of 2.25 acres of property from Commercial to High Density Residential at 1600 East Center Pointe Drive. Patterson Construction was the petitioner. The concept plan is for a 25-unit town home development.

The dozen residents of the area expressed concern with traffic safety. Neighbors who live in two developments on either side of the road felt the road was already dangerous and with the additional housing, the problem would be worse. One resident expressed dismay that approval would endanger the 106 children who live in the two neighborhoods.

The City Council unanimously agreed that the item should be tabled allowing more time for planning staff to look at the concept plan.

Other items considered by the City Council were:

  1. Mark Hampton’s request for a zone change for the Mitchell Grove, 6.38- acres of property located at approximately 1500 North 1200 West, changing the zoning from A-1 (Agricultural) to R-1-Flex. This was unanimously approved.
  2. Gene Peterson’s request for the annexation of 2.01-acres of property located at 1250 West 1500 North with proposed RA-1 zoning. This item was tabled because the zoning did not allow for use of construction equipment on the property.
  3. Consideration of a development code amendment allowing a roof sign for Strap Tank brewery and restaurant. The Council unanimously agreed to allow the amendment because of the vintage nature of the architecture.
  4. Consideration of Fort Knox Storage Annexation of approximately 2.64 acres of property located at 2400 North 1200 West with proposed TH-5 zoning. This item was unanimously approved.
  5. Consideration of a Development Code Amendment allowing provisions for auto sales lots, a new section regarding lighting standards, changes regarding fencing on corner lots and flag lot standards. The amendment was unanimously approved.
  6. Consideration of a Development Code Amendment to allow parks with Historic Preservation Overlays to be renovated and maintained. This ordinance would allow Wines Park to be improved. This was unanimously approved
  7. Consideration of an Interlocal Cooperation Agreement between Utah County and Lehi City related to storm water mitigation. Water Director Dave Norman explained that there had been a violation by Lehi City and our penalty was to fund an engineering study of Utah Lake. This is was unanimously approved by the Council
  8. Consideration of a resolution concerning the authorization of the Governor’s Office of Energy Development to conduct a commercial property assessed clean energy district. Todd Munger explained this will cost the city no money and could result in public monies for energy upgrades in privately owned commercial buildings. This was unanimously approved.
  9. Consideration of a resolution appointing two new members of the Historic Preservation Commission. They are David Butterfield and David Howell. This was unanimously approved.
  10.  Consideration of resolution appointing Gregory Jackson as a second alternate to the Planning Commission. This was also unanimously approved.

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 11:30 p.m.

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