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What are your thoughts on Herriman’s southern border?

October 24, 2014

Herriman Hills3There have been many discussions in the last couple of years regarding the southern border of Herriman City. This property is owned by several individuals, some of which have spoken to me personally expressing their desire to develop their property. The city council held an open meeting asking that the public join us for a discussion regarding some possible options for the future of this property. From the correspondence I have received, the overwhelming majority of residents would like to keep as much of this land as open space. The following remarks were read into the minutes by Kami Greenhagen Jones, the chairperson the of the Herriman Trails Committee.

Herriman City Trails Committee Official Recommendation for the Preservation of Herriman Hills

Read October 8, 2014 at the Planning for the Herriman Hills Public Hearing

Thank you for making time to give our citizens an opportunity to speak on this issue.

A year ago you asked me to form a committee to study the needs and options of our community in regards to Herriman Hills. We built a volunteer group of citizens from the ground up, then spent the past year looking at every conceivable option we could think of to establish a useable, connected trail system. We have had an world-renowned expert come in and train us, we’ve educated ourselves about industry standards, we’ve talked to many property owners, and we’ve received feedback from a large number of residents. I can assure you that the Trails Committee recommendation I will read tonight was conceived after countless hours of careful thought, study, assessment, discussion, and planning.

Five days ago I took a field trip of sorts up into the back side of our mountains. I’ve lived here 12 years and had no idea that this particular place even existed! What I saw was extraordinarily beautiful. Did you know that the highest point of the Traverse Ridge Range that runs from here to Draper is in our own backyard? From that vantage point, I could see from Clearfield to the southern end of Utah County. In addition to sweeping vistas, the terrain is varied and will lend itself well to the enjoyment of people with varied outdoor interests. There are spots up there that could be used for camping, hiking, trail running, horseback riding, rock climbing, and even an area where a rope tow could be built for tubing! The possibilities are as varied as they are exciting.

Having said that, I want to clarify that our committee has complete respect for the property rights of the current property owners. We recognize that they cannot, and should not, be forced to do anything with their property they don’t want to do. We have had discussions with some property owners, and while not everyone currently wants to sell, there is definitely interest in working with the city for resolutions on land use or purchase.

It won’t come as a surprise that the Trails Committee is officially recommending that Herriman City work to preserve the mountain. We have reached this conclusion based on the following four points:

  1. The benefits of preserving the mountain are many. Preserving open space helps us keep our connection with the world, provides noise-free places of refuge amid the bustle of life, ensures health and diversity of wild animals and plants, lessens pollution by absorbing contaminants from air and water, and avoids the costs associated with development.
  2. We want to avoid future situations like the one Draper has recently faced. They had an opportunity to purchase the Traverse Ridge range a few decades ago but decided not to. Development then went forward and eventually the developers of Suncrest went bankrupt. The city is still resolving issues related to this issue. Fortunately, the city was able to purchase the remaining Suncrest property to preserve for open space, but at a higher price per acre. In addition to the costs to purchase the open space, there are other costs to the city which address outstanding items left by the developer, as well as the higher costs associated with serving the existing residents in Suncrest. If you follow the news, you know that Draper is now facing issues with Suncrest residents regarding the extra taxes those residents have to pay to live that high up on the mountain. This is causing legal issues for the city, and Draper is experiencing a division among its residents. We want to avoid these types of issues in Herriman. We want to state that aside from the current conflict, Draper is doing a lot of things right. Thanks to the natural resource they’ve preserved, Corner Canyon High School has the biggest mountain bike team in the country. Draper City collects fees from events that are held in their canyon, helping to maintain the mountain. And perhaps the best thing is how Corner Canyon has changed the culture of Draper City. Residents there identify themselves with the outdoors and take pride in the amazing amenities their mountain has to offer. We would love to develop and maintain that same feeling here among our residents. Which brings me to my third point:
  3. The majority of our residents come to Herriman for the open space and country living feel. They are VERY concerned about development on the mountain and how it will impact their quality of life. The Trails Committee has received many comments from concerned residents who cannot be here tonight. I have asked Julie Gallegos from our committee to read a representative sample of these comments. JULIE As you can see, our residents want the mountain preserved. In the study conducted last winter in conjunction with the Herriman City Parks, Recreation, Open Space, and Trails Master Plan, 62% of respondents said that they would support an increase to the Parks Fee to help fund ongoing costs of trails and parks programs. When asked which type of trails Herriman City should increase, the number one answer was natural surface and primitive unpaved trails…the type used for hiking and biking. Respondents also want to see the trails linked together, and an increase of trailheads.
  4. There are many proven economic benefits to preserving open space. In addition to increasing property values, studies show that open space protection can support regional economic growth. When people come to Herriman to enjoy our mountain, they are likely to stop and spend money here, too. It should be noted that there are also costs associated with preserving the mountain. If a property owner chooses to sell, obviously there is cost involved in purchasing the land. There are also costs to establish and maintain trails. But these costs are less impactful to residents long-term than the costs associated with things like building a fire station on top of the mountain, establishing satellite public works buildings, snow and ice removal, bussing children to school, and so forth.
  5. Studies also show that preservation can be financially beneficial to local governments by reducing costs for public infrastructure, lessening the need for property tax increases.  When a community is built on top of a mountain, taxes need to be increased to pay for public safety, infrastructure building and maintenance, schools, and bussing.

The Trails Committee has determined that we have two options: we can pay to look at a mountain covered in homes, or we can pay to preserve the mountain. Because of the many benefits of preservation, the concerns about continued development, and the lower cost to residents, we recommend the City Council work towards protecting Herriman Hills from further development.

Herriman HillsThe costs associated with this should be financed through a variety of channels to reduce impact on residents. The City has and should continue to explore all options for grants available to purchase land. The challenge with these types of funding sources is that they are highly competitive and typically require a funding match. Without a match available it is difficult to be awarded these types of grants. Herriman needs to establish a plan to ensure money is quickly available when these opportunities arise.

We are excited about the partnership with Camp Williams that may potentially bring in $5 million over the next few years. However, this money requires a match, is not guaranteed, and can only be used to purchase land within one mile of Camp Williams. This leaves all the land down lower on the mountain open to continued development.   If a property owner on the lower part of the mountain decides to sell, it is impractical to think that the city could apply for a grant, receive it, and then find the funds to match it in a timely manner. This is exactly the type of scenario where funds will need to be immediately available. Otherwise the land quickly becomes open to developers.

If mountain preservation is a priority to residents, and from the feedback we are getting it is, part of the money for these matches and land purchases is going to have to come from a tax or fee. Preliminary scenarios indicate that this would probably be an additional $5-10 fee, with the money dedicated solely to purchasing mountain property. If residents are willing to pay this, it will have a significant impact on the City’s ability to acquire the mountain. If we aren’t willing to pay this, have no doubt that the development will come. We’ve seen this happen in Draper and other cities.

We want to reiterate that this money will never be used to force a property owner to sell. It’s primary purpose is to leave money available if and when there is an interest to sell a piece of property.

The Trails Committee’s official recommendation to the Council is to put together a program that will allow Herriman to buy property on the mountain as soon as it becomes available. This includes studying the property values, how to collect the fee, if it should be used solely to purchase land or also to make improvements, the amount of the fee, and the length of time the fee should be assessed. Once that information is determined, we recommend that the Council either enact a resolution or put it on the ballot so residents can decide.

Herriman Hills2It is recognized that this amount, though small, could be a hardship for some. But when everyone contributes a small part, we work together to preserve the area we love and define who we are as a community. We send the message that open space is important to us and we will do what is necessary to assure these spaces are available to our community.

The Trails Committee is asking you to please consider the long term impact of not preserving Herriman Hills. If the permits for the hundreds of homes are issued, more will follow and the mountain will forever be changed. Please allow us to solidify Herriman as a community that values natural resources and preserves them for the enjoyment of generations to come. Let’s leave a legacy we will be proud of.

Thank you!

Construction Yard Next to Juniper Point?

March 20, 2014

On March 20, I posted about the issue regarding the equipment placed south of Juniper Point subdivision (see below). I have since spoken with a resident of Juniper Point that has raised some points that need to be investigated further. Although I trust the statements made by Momentum that they will not operate a sand and gravel operation in the location in question, further arguments have been given that warrant further discourse and examination with our legal department. I appreciate all who have contacted me about this and will continue to investigate this matter with advice from our attorney. I appreciate your patience.

I am receiving many questions from residents that live in the Juniper Point area about J Wright setting up equipment just south of their development. Those that have come to me with complaints have also expressed concern that a sand and gravel operation are not permitted use in this area. I will address both issues in this post.

First, J Wright and the Momentum Development Group are not setting up a sand and gravel operation in the area where their equipment is being stored. They are simply moving and staging equipment at the location.  J Wright and Momentum are moving some of their storage equipment from Rosecrest Road and Juniper Crest Road to this location. I have contacted Momentum, and they are not planning any sand and gravel operation at this specific location, although they will store equipment, fuel, and materials there. Momentum has stated this storage site will be temporary as they begin construction on the extension of Juniper Crest Road and a subdivision just to the south of the storage area.

There are plans that as development continues, Juniper Crest Road will be extended south and east. This can be clearly seen on the 2025 General Plan. By having equipment closer to the next phase of development, J Wright will be able to stay efficient as they work to ready this land for the necessary improvements. I anticipate that this will happen within the next year or so.

permitted_use_mapKeep in mind, J Wright and Momentum are permitted to have a sand and gravel operation near this location under certain parameters, as issued in a 2008 permit they applied for and obtained from the Herriman City Planning Commission. (See the shaded area on the attached map, for a full version click HERE.)  You’ll see that they will need to follow strict conditions such as limit the hours of operation, limit the area that is disturbed, and so on.

In speaking with Momentum, I was assured that they only employ sand and gravel operations as a means to develop a project. I must add that this has been my experience over the past six years as I have interacted with Momentum’s management team – they carry out a sand and gravel operation only as it makes sense to develop the area, obtain all necessary permits, and leave the land improved and ready for home construction.

J Wright and Momentum will continue to be good neighbors with residents as the development south and east of the Juniper Point subdivision continues. I appreciate all who have contacted me directly and have taken the time to investigate this issue for themselves. Please share this post with your neighbors as many do not have all of the particulars at their disposal.

Best Cities For Home Ownership in Utah

March 4, 2014

under constructionNerdWallet, a company dedicated to helping you guard your hard earned money, analyzed the 47 cities with populations greater than 15,000 in Utah to determine which cities have characteristics that are favorable to homebuyers. Their analysis answers three main questions:

1. Are homes available?  This company looked at the metro area’s homeownership rate to determine the availability of homes. A low homeownership rate is likely a signal of competitive inventory, more options for renters rather than buyers and expensive housing. Areas with a high homeownership rate led to a higher overall score.

2. Can you afford to live there? NerdWallet looked at median household income, monthly homeowner costs and median home value to assess affordability and determine whether residents could live comfortably in the area. We used monthly homeowner costs to measure cost of living. Areas with high median incomes and low cost of living scored higher.

3. Is the area growing? They measured population growth to ensure that the area is attracting new residents and showing signs of solid growth. This is likely a signal of a robust local economy, which is another attractive characteristic for homebuyers.

The Top 5

1. Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs has the highest population growth on our list at 21.8%. The lakeside location offers gorgeous views and easy access to the lake with the 8-acre public City Marina for boating and other water sports. The area was originally a resort built around the natural hot springs and still maintains a quiet, rural atmosphere with convenient access to the larger metro areas of Salt Lake City and Provo-Orem. It is also near three colleges, including Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah Valley University in Orem and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Skiers and snowboarders enjoy the close proximity to resorts like Snowbird and Alta.

 2. Eagle Mountain

The high homeownership rate (87.6%) and low homeowner costs at 27.4% of household income make home buying in Eagle Mountain easy and affordable. At its incorporation in 1996, there were just 250 residents, and that number has since grown to more than 23,000, making it one of the fastest-growing communities in Utah and the third-fastest growing on our list at a rate of 18%. Located at the western base of the Lake Mountains, residents enjoy plenty of open space in a community that includes more than 30 miles of jogging, bike and horse trails in its master plan. The local government offers incentive packages to new businesses, including land and utilities concessions, with extra incentives for the tech industry, which dominates job growth in the area.

3. Syracuse

Syracuse is extremely buyer-friendly with 92.5% of its residents owning their homes – the highest rate on our list – and contributing only 23.5% of their household incomes to homeowner costs – the lowest percentage on our list. It is next to the Great Salt Lake, and skiing is less than an hour away at Snowbasin and Wolf Mountain. Known as the “Gateway to Antelope Island,” Syracuse offers access to myriad outdoor activities, including camping, boating and snowshoeing. With close proximity to Hill Air Force Base, the federal government is the top employer for this area.

4. Herriman City

view lotThe second-fastest growing city on our list, Herriman grew by 19% between 2010 and 2012, and residents like its family-friendly atmosphere and safe neighborhoods. The 1,000 acres of open space, parks and trails, a community garden, a skate park and the largest recreational center in Salt Lake County offer a rural atmosphere with plenty to do. Strong consumer demographics – a median age of 24.7 and median household income of $76,509 – predict continued economic growth, making it a great place to start a business. It’s also a great place to seek an education – the University of Utah in nearby Salt Lake City is among the top 100 universities in the world.

5. Clinton

New residents needn’t worry about their pocketbooks because Clinton City has the lowest median selected monthly homeowner costs at $1,376, and 85.7% of its residents are homeowners. The federal government is the top employer for this area, as it is close to Hill Air Force Base. The city has a diverse mix of farming, residential and commercial areas. Though much of the farmland has been replaced by housing, the city still maintains a quiet, rural atmosphere, but lies close enough to Salt Lake City for easy access.

Rankings – The Numbers

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Upcoming Development Near MVC

February 24, 2014

Development is coming near the Mountain View Corridor and Rosecrest Road. I have had some requests recently from residents to outline what is planned for this area of Herriman. A new development just east of Mountain View Corridor, The Meadows, will begin to develop this Summer as Rosecrest Road will be extended east of the MVC in June of this year. I anticipate homes being built in The Meadows this Summer, which will stimulate more development in this area of Herriman. I will mention that Juniper Crest Road will not be extended this year. I anticipate this extension to be at least two years out.

It is also noteworthy that plans are continuing which will bring Salt Lake Community College to Herriman. The attached map will help to see how this development will be oriented with respect to roads and homes that already exist in town. As more details become available regarding this development, I will continue to share what new information is available.Development Around MVC

Spring Sports in Herriman

February 19, 2014

sportsSpring is right around the corner and members of your family may want to know where to sign up for Spring sports and recreation programs that are offered in Herriman. Check out all that Herriman has to offer by going to our sports and recreation section of our website. With soccer, baseball, lacrosse and more, there is something for everyone.

Herriman Live Auditions

February 18, 2014

Herriman Live! talent show auditions will be held this Friday, February 21st from 3-7pm and Saturday, February 22nd from 1-3pm at the Herriman City Hall. Register for an audition @ www.herriman.org. Herriman Live! is March 1st at 7pm at FHMS.Herriman Live 2014 Audition Poster

Herriman Arts Council: Shrek

February 14, 2014

The Herriman Arts Council is gearing up for their musical production of SHREK. Auditions will be held April 4th and 5th at Herriman City Hall. Sign up for an audition time at http://www.herriman.org.Shrek Musical

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