Townhome development is stirring up Highland

DESERET NEWS – HIGHLAND — Developers say that a townhome project is getting the runaround from elected officials.

After the Planning Commission approved the 162-unit project in December, the Highland City Council filed an appeal against the commission, arguing it did not have the authority to green-light the project.

Now, both the council and developers are waiting to hear back from the city’s Board of Adjustment, which listened to complaints at a hearing last week.

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Potential urban farming opportunities

THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE – Salt Lake County wants to put dozens of future parks and unused government properties to use by opening them to community gardening, commercial farming and biofuel production. The so-called urban-farming effort targets more than 30 properties that will be put up for lease to residents interested in uprooting weeds and replacing them with crops. It marks a return to the Wasatch Front’s agrarian past and, according to County Councilman Jim Bradley, will put public turf to good use without much cost to the county. Program manager Julie Peck-Dabling says creative methods allow for diverse crops and effective farming even without thousands of open acres. She is calling on residents to e-mail to weigh in on the county plan.

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UDOT to kick off $8M Davis County study on ‘Legacy North’

DESERET NEWS – OGDEN — People may still call it Legacy North, but the future road along western Davis County is currently unknown.

Sure, a possible alignment for a roadway has been on planning maps for years in Farmington, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, West Point and West Haven.

And the Wasatch Front Regional Council envisions a four-lane road in Davis County and a two-lane road in Weber County.

But there’s nothing official on paper saying exactly what a western Davis corridor would look like.

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LDS Church buys lot near viaduct on North Temple

THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE – Calling it an investment opportunity, the LDS Church has bought a 3.76-acre lot on the northeast corner of 400 West and North Temple in Salt Lake City.

A Gastronomy subsidiary, known as SLH NET, sold the land in a deal finalized last month. Terms were not disclosed.

“The land was purchased as a long-term investment with no immediate plans for development,” LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said Tuesday.

The move follows the church’s recent purchase of 13 downtown acres, including a block between 400 South and 500 South and West Temple and Main streets from Sinclair Cos., controlled by oil magnate Earl Holding. Church officials said that acquisition, estimated around $25 million, also is a long-term investment.

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(The Salt Lake Tribune)

Officials: Vision Dixie on track

THE SPECTRUM – ST. GEORGE – Despite fears to the contrary, a collection of Washington County mayors and other government officials told an audience at the Washington County Economic Summit Wednesday the Vision Dixie program is still alive and well.

Established in 2007, Vision Dixie is an effort among the communities of Washington County to deal with growth in a way that preserves resources and maximizes effectiveness. In essence, the program provides a set of principles Washington County municipalities can look to when forming ordinances or updating general plans.

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Draper rezones for high density on parcel

THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE – The Draper City Council voted 4-1 last week to rezone 7½ acres in South Mountain from medium to high density residential despite a unanimous recommendation against the change from the city’s Planning Commission.

The new density designation (from three units per acre to up to 20 units per acre) for the parcel near 400 E. Vestry Road — known as South Mountain phase 2E2 in Draper planning maps — was part of a legal settlement reached in July between Salt Lake County, the South Mountain development firm and Draper.

The rezone “was a difficult decision because of the impact on the neighbors,” said Councilman Jeff Stenquist. “But there were benefits to the city: settling a potentially costly lawsuit and getting better open space with connecting trails.”

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City plans for new resort zone put on hold

THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE – Cottonwood Heights » A controversial proposed city ordinance that might allow more and taller residences in the 47-acre Tavaci development near Big Cottonwood Canyon has been delayed — at least for now.

In an effort to garner more public input, city leaders have created a committee of 13 residents to gather feedback on the draft ordinance. City officials appointed the committee members earlier this week.

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(The Salt Lake Tribune)

Portland Streetcar Tour

Portland Streetcar

The official line for the streetcar tour:

This delegation is composed of officials, transit planners, developers and businesses that all have significant roles in shaping Salt Lake City’s new streetcar redevelopment efforts.  They are interested in riding the line, talking with developers and experts about Portland’s experiences and stories. They have also asked to meet with financial institutions that had a role in the underwriting of some of the projects.

The real story:

Every town has its local export, and Portland has has become expert in pitching its urban transit solutions. They do have something to talk about however, and the role that the privately funded streetcar system played in the build out of the Pearl District is a very compelling story. Developers paid tax increments based on proximity to the streetcar system & zoning ordinances, preservation guidelines & small area plans developed based on a walkable neighborhood model where residents had access to goods & services by foot and transportation options include a mix of bus, streetcar, light rail and cars in addition to bike & pedestrian routes.

Despite a vastly different blockface & street scale of SLC & Portland, due to the current political priorities and the overwhelming success of TRAX in Salt Lake City, the city is moving to expand to next steps of streetcars as “walk extenders” with the first line (2100S TRAX stop to Sugarhouse) awaiting final Federal funding within the month.

Expect to continue to hear more about streetcars from the Becker administration in the months to come.

Warren K Lloyd, AIA LEED AP

Utah outlook on housing is improving

DESERET NEWS – The Wasatch Front housing market has been on a historic roller coaster ride for the better part of the past decade, reaching its pinnacle just over two years ago. A new report indicates that wild market ride may finally be “pulling into the station” this year, offering some hope to wearied consumers, Realtors and other industry insiders.

“In Salt Lake County, we’ve probably touched bottom in 2009 and we’re going to see a slight improvement in 2010,” Jim Wood, director of the University of Utah’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research and author of the “2010 Salt Lake Housing Forecast,” told the Deseret News.

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Becker focuses on ‘livability’

THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE – Heartened and inspired by people’s pluck, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, at the midway point in his first term, says Utah’s capital is on the federal government’s radar as “a place to watch, a model for progress, quality growth, and livability among American cities.”

But he isn’t satisfied. Becker vows to make “livability” the watchword of his next two years. His method will focus on four E’s: environment, efficiency, equality and engagement.

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