Orem Frontrunner planning meeting draws criticism, praise from citizens

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Orem residents listen to presenters from the City of Orem Station Area Planning Team explain how the rest of the evening would run. The event took place on June 22 at the UVU Fulton Library and lasted for three hours. (Joe Wirthlin)

The Imagine Orem Station Public Workshop on June 22 drew both criticism and praise from Orem and Vineyard citizens regarding the required changes.

At the workshop, the City of Orem Station Area Planning Team showed a presentation that highlighted the development of the land in a half-mile radius around the Orem Frontrunner station. Live polls during the presentation asked residents their opinions on what they wanted the future station land to look like.

The presentation outlined the shared objectives the planning team and residents had, which included increasing the availability and affordability of housing, promoting sustainable environmental conditions, enhancing access to opportunities and increasing transportation choices and connections.

Large tables were spread throughout the room, with seats for eight to ten people per table. A large map of Orem with the Frontrunner station in the center covered the table, along with packets of squares representing acre-sized zoning area. After the presentation, residents placed these squares on the map to show how they wanted zoning of the area to be updated in the future.

Residents work together with a facilitator to plan out how they want to adjust the zoning of the city of Orem. The different maps were then compared at the end of the evening to show how each group would like Orem to look in the future. (Joe Wirthlin)

Facilitators representing the interests of Orem residents, Mountainland Association of Governments, Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Transit Authority, Utah Lake Authority, UVU and Orem city planners sat at each table, helping residents plan out their ideas. The facilitators trained before the meeting to help oversee table discussions for each group.

Orem City Council candidate Jenn Gale said she did not know what to expect when she first came to the meeting. After the presentation, Gale said it had been “awesome” to listen to the presentation and learn about what they are planning for the city.

“It’s really interesting to try and bring the different perspectives together and agree on something,” Gale said.

Gale said she could see how coordinating different opinions is a complex process. She loved how the planning team gave people the chance to exercise their right as citizens to have input in their community.

“I love that they’ve given us the opportunity to say what we think,” Gale said.

Not everyone felt the same way. When the presenter explained how attendees could vote on the changes during the presentation, Vineyard resident Tim Heaton interrupted, asking why there was no option to vote for none of the above changes. Residents around him applauded his comment.

Heaton lives on the border of Vineyard and Orem, but came to the meeting due to the impact it would have on him. He said the borders between Vineyard and Orem are so “randomly drawn” that it can be difficult for residents to understand which city they live in. After hearing the presentation, Heaton said he felt “imposed upon by interests that aren’t even present” at the meeting.

“They want to create a situation that will require massive infrastructure so that they have a justification to build a massive infrastructure,” Heaton said. “That’s backwards. That’s not how it should be.”

The meeting wrapped up by showcasing the different maps each group created. A follow-up meeting in September will allow the planning team to present compiled variations of the maps residents created for the community to discuss.

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