Construction of multifamily housing in Provo is like a runaway horse, and the City Council is grabbing the reins and pulling - even though the horse might have already caused too much damage.
In an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon, the council unanimously passed three resolutions that will virtually halt construction of apartment complexes in most areas of the city until a new general plan is adopted in early 1996. Most developments already in the approval process won't be affected by the resolutions."This gives us time to complete the plan and come up with a vision that more closely fits the community's desires," said Leland Gamette, director of community development.
One resolution puts a six-month moratorium on construction of multifamily housing units in three zones that currently allow such construction. Another says the Planning Commission will hear proposed amendments to the general plan only once a year, with the next time being in December 1995. The council also passed a resolution saying it opposes the creation of any new zoning districts that allow multifamily housing or the expansion of any current districts.
The resolutions were recommended by the council's Land Use Committee, which said complaints about the onslaught of apartment complexes were all they heard at recent neighborhood meetings on the General Plan.
"There have not been any meetings where the neighbors did not express concern over multifamily dwellings and the encroachment of those dwellings into neighborhoods traditionally reserved for low-density housing," Councilwoman Shari Holweg said.
"We need to get control of growth, and from what I have seen, we haven't had control, and a lot of neighborhoods have suffered," said Bert Cherry, chairman of the Maeser Neighborhood Committee.
According to 1990 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, 68 percent of all Utah County multifamily units are located in Provo. In 1989, only 39 percent of housing constructed in Provo was multifamily units. In 1993, however, 68 percent of all new housing units were multifamily dwellings. Also, 70 percent of all landlords live outside Provo.
The Land Use Committee says the upsurge of high-density housing is deteriorating the city's infrastructure, contributing to the air-quality problem and is causing a loss of many historical structures.
The moratorium halts construction of new multiple-unit housing in areas zoned general commercial, residential-two and residential-three. Gamette said the moratorium gives the city time to re-evaluate areas currently zoned under the three classifications and to possibly rezone some of the property.
"This does not mean there will be wholesale downzoning of property," he said.
The moratorium does not affect areas zoned residential-four and residential-five. Developments that received some city approval prior to Tuesday's meeting are exempt from the moratorium. The resolution also provides an appeals process for developers who could suffer severe financial loss because of the moratorium.
In approving the resolution that says applications for General Plan amendments will only be heard once a year, council members said hearing applications throughout the year is stalling the development of a new General Plan. Applications will only be accepted until August 1 each year, with a hearing on the applications in December. Any new amendment proposals will be considered during the revision process of the current plan.
"We can get a vision of how the community would look as a whole when we consider these applications together rather than handling each application on a piece-meal basis," Gamette said.
The council's resolution that discourages the creation and expansion of new multifamily zoning, also encourages the Planning Commission to initiate a text amendment that would eliminate multifamily housing in general commercial zones. The resolution also asks that apartment complexes be a conditional use rather than a permitted use in the central business district.
"You're sending a message to the Planning Commission and development community as to what you believe the future plan of the city will be," Gamette told the council.
Multifamily dwelling units built
1991 1992 1993
Provo 257 451 461
Orem 30 135 269
Springville 2 18 34
Single-family dwelling units built
Provo 135 158 234
Orem 461 432 359
Springville 55 135 161