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After nearly three hours of listening to public opinion and debating among themselves, the Farmington City Council amended the city's master plan and rezoned a 12-acre pasture for potential commercial development.

The parcel, on the northwest corner of Shepard Lane at U.S. 89, is across the highway from a shopping center. Plans for another minimall and fast food restaurant are being formulated for the property south across Shepard Lane.Nearby residents oppose changing the parcel's zoning from residential to special use, telling the council and planning commission in a joint public hearing that it will adversely impact their homes.

The parcel's zoning and designation in the city's master plan led them to believe that homes would be built on it and their neighborhood would remain residential, they told the council.

Developer Steve Smoot and property owner William Rigby said the property's location adjacent to a busy highway and across from the shopping center make it more suited to commercial than residential use.

Planning administrator Bob Scott told the council and commission the city's commercial center is shifting from downtown Farmington to the Shepard Lane-Highway 89 intersection and it makes sense to set that property aside for commercial use.

Smoot said zoning the property for special use rather than straight commercial sets up a number of safeguards under city ordinances. Development plans will have to reviewed and approved by the planning commission, he said.

Although a large piece of the city's open space will be built up, Smoot said the development could generate $140,000 to $200,000 annually in sales tax revenue for the city and "that will buy a lot of parks," he said.

Rigby, who has owned the land for 46 years, said he wants to develop it in a way that will have the least impact on his neighbors. But the construction of a shopping center across the highway makes it uneconomical to put in homes, Rigby said.

"Having a commercial development across the road is not too desirable but it's better than some other neighbors I've had," said Rigby. If the land is left as residential, the only way to profitably develop it is to put "a lot of cheap houses in there," he said.

Rigby noted the developers live in Farmington and Centerville and are committed to preserving the image of the city. "They aren't going to do something that's an eyesore or to hurt the community," he said.

Councilman Don Redd expressed the council's feelings, saying he would like to see the land remain agricultural and open, but the city doesn't have that power. The only option is to buy the property and that isn't economically feasible, Redd said, so the alternative is to ensure a quality development.