Because of the number of meeting participants, the Lehi City Council and Planning Commission met virtually Tuesday for a work session due to social distancing space constraints in the council chambers. The hot topic for the evening was an update on the new Thanksgiving Point Area Plan. The plan has been under review for quite some time after the City told developers that Thanksgiving Point would not receive building approvals until a new long-term area plan was adopted to address failed traffic flow in the area.
The Greer Company, Stack Real Estate and Thanksgiving Point presented the update, represented by Nathan Ricks, from Stack.
In May, Ricks presented a 780-acre area plan, including 5,837 units and Thanksgiving Point Golf Club’s removal. Based on feedback from prior presentations, the updated plan included a large decrease in units and now only consists of the areas east of the Lehi FrontRunner station, including the current Cornbelly’s site, the soccer fields and the remaining vacant parcels.
“We have a vision we are hoping we can execute on. We hope that it becomes a vision for everyone making decisions here,” began Ricks.
Since the initial plan presentation in May, the development team ordered a traffic study conducted by Hales Engineering. Ricks presented the traffic study findings and offered the Council two different development scenarios that complied with the traffic study recommendations, even without the Clubhouse Drive extension.
Scenario one would include 3,068 residential units, 865,000 square feet of office, 92,000 square feet of commercial and 100,000 square feet of education space (Utah Valley University).
Scenario two would include 2,000 residential units, 1.3 million square feet of office, 72,000 square feet of commercial and 100,000 square feet of education space (UVU).
The two scenarios were designed to “meet the optimal internal capture rate,” which in theory lowers traffic, with a mix of 60% residential, 30% office and 10% commercial. The existing mix is 99% office, 1% commercial and 0% residential.
The traffic study also included infrastructure improvements, with Triumph Blvd. and Clubhouse Drive extensions or widening by 2040, with the proposed project, or by 2050 without the proposed project.
How would the proposed improvements be funded? This question has concerned both City leaders and developers from the plan’s inception.
“The bottom line is, without the project, they both [road improvements] have to be built anyway. These are regional roads. We pay impact fees, and that money is earmarked for impacts that we cause,” said Ricks.
Councilman Chris Condie said he wants to monitor the almost completed I-15 freeway project and how new traffic patterns will affect, and hopefully solve, some current traffic issues in the Thanksgiving Point area.
Continuing with infrastructure concerns, Councilman Mike Southwick asked, “Do we even know about water, sewer or power?”
Lehi City Engineer, Lorin Powell, affirmed concerns about utility infrastructure but noted utility details and planning would be determined later in the development approval process.
The Council’s overall consensus was the number of units in the revised plan was still too high.
“Were talking about getting the right mix of residential, commercial and office space back in line. While I appreciate the effort that has been put into coming up with those ratios, part of why we need so much density right now is because the original area plan was overbuilt with office, which is now requiring such a larger element of residential to get back in line with the ratio split. I am concerned about how much residential would be needed to get to those appropriate ratios,” said Councilman Paul Hancock.
After the Council’s feedback, Ricks requested a timeline commitment from the Council, including a plan approval date of January 26, 2021.
The Council agreed the timeline requested wasn’t long enough, and the process will require more time. City Development Director and Head of the Planning Department, Kim Struthers, agreed.
“This proposed timeline might work for a concept plan approval, but for the full area plan to go through, we are looking at a lot longer timeline to go through utilities and traffic in much greater detail,” said Struthers.
Councilwoman Katie Koivisto expressed concern that the presentation circumvented proper protocols. She suggested that a formal application was necessary to move the development through necessary City channels appropriately. The developer said they would adhere to the request and will now submit the project for concept approval.