Orem City approves urban village

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    By Craig Blackwell

    As many as 6,000 students could soon be moving into the “urban village.”

    The Orem City Council voted Tuesday, Oct. 24, to allow developers to go ahead with plans to build a mixed-use village at University Parkway and Geneva Road.

    The developers’ idea is to create a self-supporting “village” where students would have all the necessary conveniences in one central location. The proposed plans are to build a four- or five-story building with residential housing on top of commercial space, a project Ken Young of the city planning commission said is the first of its kind anywhere.

    At the meeting, were a handful of residents who were mostly concerned with the impact on their homes, and the safety of their children increased traffic would present.

    “I can’t help but to think Disneyland is being constructed in my backyard,” resident Tim Kennedy said. “I have lived around student centers all my life. It will bring down the value of our homes.”

    LaDell Gillman said he wasn’t against the project, but still concerned about the impact a five-story building could have on the area’s high water table.

    “Because of the high water table there are houses in the area that don’t have basements. There are drains that run under most of the property to drain the water to the lake,” Gillman said.

    The developers presented the Council with a developer agreement.

    According to that document, the developers will pay to install traffic lights at the intersection of 1000 South and Geneva Road. Also, the developers will dedicate 12 feet to widen Geneva Road and 15 feet to construct sidewalks.

    Also the agreement said the developers would contribute $200,000 to purchase land and construct a public safety building on the west side.

    Heath Johnston, one of the developers of the project, said there would also be an office in the grocery store for a police officer.

    The biggest requirement that the developers agreed on with the city was the construction of an overpass to help transport students to and from the school. The overpass will be dedicated to pedestrians, bicycles, and campus vehicles.

    According to Johnston, the entire project is expected to take up to five years to complete and will be constructed in phases.

    Neighbors said they worry about students coming in and not caring about the area or the apartments they live in.

    “I managed some apartments that my family owned in Provo. After four or five years, they started to look bad. The students started to move to other apartments that were newer. I think the same thing will happen with this project in the future,” Melanie Kennedy said.

    Mayor Jerry Washburn said the overriding concern for him and the Council was growth and traffic. He said those are problems throughout the community — not just in the area of the proposed project.

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