Daily Universe Editorial
Provo residents will have to wait until next week to make their final, futile attempt to get their City Council to listen to them.
Why isn’t the Council listening? Because it is intent on selling out to big developers. The developer du jour (and there have been many in Provo’s history) wants to turn Seven Peaks into a bunch of apartments. Why has this got some residents concerned? The residents fear that the high-density housing will lead to increased traffic, pollution and safety hazards.
The issue raises some difficult questions, balancing the rights of the developers with those of residents guarding against changes that may negatively affect their livelihoods. Brent and Scott McQuarrie own the area. On the surface, it would appear that the owners have the right to develop the area as they please. After all, this is a capitalist society — a land of opportunity.
However, this argument can only go so far before it stumbles over the issue of zoning. The 51 acres planned for development are zoned for public-facility use, not residential. In order to allow the proposed housing project, the area must be rezoned for residential use.
The issue of zoning must be decided by the Provo City Council, which is supposed to represent the people of the community. However, the ongoing debate suggests that the residents’ voices are not being heard.
The residents, who have formed a group called Concerned Families of Provo, have legitimate arguments. A high-density residential area would lead to increased traffic flow and, consequently, safety hazards that the residents are unaccustomed to. A traffic study, paid for by Seven Peaks officials, said the complexes would bring an additional
19,000 vehicle trips to the area each day. Finally, the residents feel that housing, which caters to a transient population, would disrupt the sense of community.
At issue is not so much the development of housing, but the residents’ right to maintain their standard of living. The reason that the City Council should reject the proposal is simple. The residents don’t want high-density housing and the problems that come with it. It does not seem justifiable for the Council to rezone an area already set aside for public-facility use when so many of the area?s residents oppose the measure.
Bert Cherry, chair for a group called the Maeser Neighborhood Committee, was quoted in the Provo Daily Herald suggesting that the City Council members had a responsibility to the community to not allow high density housing. “The real issue is no more high density,” he told the Council. “You each ran on that platform. How can you even hear this thing?”
It’s no secret that Provo, along with the entire state, is growing faster than it can accommodate itself . However, in dealing with such rapid growth, the rights of residents to maintain their standard of living must be guarded. Hopefully, the city has not become so big that it can’t hear the voices of its community. Perhaps the most disturbing thing is the citizens of Provo are stuck with a Council that follows, not leads; fixes, not projects.
This editorial is the opinion of The Daily Universe Editorial Board. Daily Universe opinions are not necessarily opinions of BYU, its administrators or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints