Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting was like no other. It exceed 5 hours and was more crowded than most city council meetings tend to be. Besides a fairly heated discussion regarding further commercial development next to the Provo Riverwoods, there was a huge turn-out to address Provo’s Northwest Connector as well as a general plan amendment request.
The amendment to the general plan is fairly unique. While developers frequently make requests, due to the high cost of applying, citizens rarely do so. In this case Doug Pickup and Jade Koyle requested that a road being built behind their homes not be kept in the general plan (with the hope that road construction would be called off as well).
The road in question is being built as an extension of Slate Canyon Drive to carry traffic from the east end of Center Street to 300 South at 1350 East.
Many residents that reside in this area are upset over the construction of this road. They object for various reasons such as questioning the road’s purpose and the position many of their homes will be put in of being sandwiched between two streets. The full request can be viewed here.
This item has been discussed before by the council, with the road itself being funded as a result of council votes on October 5th and 19th. The video of our discussion acknowledging the concerns of the residents is posted below in two parts.
During our discussion the Mayor mentioned that while he understood the residents would be appealing this road, construction would proceed to some extent though asphalt would not be placed until their amendment request was considered.
This is a tough situation which I imagine any resident can empathize with. Generally when one purchases a home, you don’t expect a road to be built behind your house. Additionally, it’s a very difficult thing to effectively stop even when you’re familiar with the process. While we as a city are quick to point out that the road has been in the general plan for nearly 40 years, it’s a bit of a burden to expect every resident to be familiar with every aspect of our city’s lengthy general plan.
I have consistently voted against constructing this road. I made this decision for a number of reasons. First, I believe that residents have the right to a fair process. I objected to the continuing with the construction of this road before the citizen’s could appeal it. Additionally, I strongly believe that the general plan should be used as guide towards making our city better for its residents. I think continuing with this road tarnishes our general plan and is a net-loss for the Provost neighborhood.
During our October 19th meeting the council voted 4-1 to go forward and finalize funding the road. No one spoke against it during our public hearing which can be viewed below.
Five months later, in the March 23rd planning commission meeting the planning commission voted 4-2 in favor of Leland Gammit’s motion to reject the citizen’s request. Interestingly, it appears that the two alternates in attendance also expressed their opposition to the road indicating that had the members in attendance been different, the vote may have gone in a different direction.
The commission did craft their motion in such a way, as to indicate to the council that they saw a solid reason to consider not putting the road in as planned.
The City Council will likely be discussing and voting on this amendment request in one of our April meetings. As always, I invite everyone interested to get involved with the process. I will post with the exact date as soon as it’s noticed. Council member contact information can be found here and I welcome emails from those supporting or opposing this item.