North Ogden officials OK 32.9-acre project, try to assuage neighbors' concerns

Wednesday , October 11, 2017 - 4:07 PM2 comments

TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner Staff

NORTH OGDEN — After years of debate, and a few tweaks along the way, North Ogden leaders have given the green light to a massive mixed-use development project off Washington Boulevard that could bring 600 apartments, townhouses and more to the sector.

Still, that doesn’t mean construction of Village at Prominence Point, as the initiative is dubbed, is immediately in the offing.

“The process is still only beginning,” North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor said Tuesday night after the North Ogden City Council unanimously approved the development agreement for the project, allowing it to move forward.

And one of the many neighbors who expressed concerns about potential traffic, flooding, school crowding and more brought on by the project during a public hearing before Tuesday’s action said she’ll keep tabs as development unfolds.

“We’ll be paying attention. I don’t look at this as our job is done,” said Rosie Alexander, who said she has worried about the impact of the large development.

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Jack Barrett of Scottsdale, Arizona, a principal in one of the companies developing the project, Meritage Companies of Alaska, offered few details about the next steps in the project’s evolution. His focus of late has been on securing support for the plans from the city council, which also approved a zoning change permitting the project, he said after the council voted.

Taylor, though, said his understanding is that the developers are eager to get going, possibly yet this year. The agreement approved Tuesday gives Meritage Companies and Mountain Vista Trails, another firm involved in the project, until 2025 to develop the plans.

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The Meritage Companies project calls for construction of 69 buildings housing 404 apartments, 107 townhouses, 28 cottages for seniors and a 68-unit independent living facility for seniors. It also calls for commercial development and would be spread across 32.9 acres of largely undeveloped land west of Washington Boulevard, between 1700 North and 1900 North. 

A complementary project on eight acres of vacant land on the southwestern edge of the Meritage property, previously approved by city officials, calls for construction of a 140-unit assisted living facility for seniors, Canyon View Senior Living. Underground water, sewer and stormwater lines have already been installed, and construction of the main 108,000 square foot building is expected to start in late November, developer Ron Ziebart of Salem, Oregon-based Link Development said Wednesday.

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The city council approved a smaller incarnation of the Village at Prominence Point plans in late 2015. But Barrett subsequently acquired more nearby property, expanding the proposal and necessitating review and approval from city officials. Nearby residents — homes abut the northern and western periphery of the development zone — expressed reservations about the plans at a Sept. 20 North Ogden Planning Commission meeting.

They also spoke out on Tuesday at the public hearing before city officials approved the project.

Flooding, congestion, school crowding

Shelley Burke, for one, expressed concern about overcrowding brought on by new residents at Green Acres Elementary, the Weber School District school that would likely serve the development. She suspects it could result in 300 new students, pushing the school beyond its capacity.

“The impact this has on the school is huge,” she said.

Alexander worried it will disrupt the feel in the neighborhood of largely single-family homes. North Ogden, she said, “has flourished the way that it is. While change is good, it’s a very serious undertaking.”

Others questioned what sort of accommodations would be implemented in light of the massive construction to facilitate drainage of stormwater and prevent flooding. Many also expressed concern that their mountain views would be hampered and that the project would generate increased auto traffic on neighborhood streets, particularly 1700 North, endangering kids and others.

“It seems like it’s going to be a disaster,” said Dan Smith, alluding to likely congestion from people heading to work when and if the project takes off. “And then you add kids going to school.”

Taylor addressed the comments, trying to assuage the concerns.

City officials have spoken to Weber School District reps about the plans, but development can’t be stopped because of the impact it has on schools, he said. Rather, new schools, if need be, may have to be built.

Developers have been purposeful in setting the height of the planned buildings in the complex to minimize the adverse impact it has on mountain views to the east, according to Taylor. What’s more, the project has been designed to prevent flooding, with a planned dog park southwest of the development to serve as a drainage basin.

As for traffic, that will increase, he acknowledged, but he suspects most of it will go directly to Washington Boulevard, having minimal impact on neighboring side streets to the west. Still, enforcement of traffic laws “will certainly be an important priority” and officials will consider things like added stop signs and parking restrictions on 1700 North as the project evolves.

The high-density nature of the project, too, is a good thing, even if it means more people, Taylor said. More residents mean developers are able to generate more revenue, enabling them to build to higher standards, with better materials and more amenities.

“I think it’s going to make a much better project and much better neighbors than if we cut it down,” that is, scaled back the size and quality of the project, he said.

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