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APARTMENT HUNTING IS TOUGH IN DAVIS COUNTY

Davis County planners have identified a shortage of multifamily housing, once so plentiful that landlords used creative ways to drum up tenants.

It was just 10 years ago, when some apartment managers in Davis County would offer either a free month's rent or a videocassette recorder for residents who signed a yearlong lease.Today, such a deal is hard to come by - let alone housing.

"I tried looking for an apartment myself," said Farmington City Planner David Petersen, who moved to town in November. "I found we have very few."

Of all Davis County's housing units, 22 percent are multifamily. Salt Lake County, by contrast, has 31 percent multifamily units.

When the county says affordable multifamily housing has to go somewhere, many towns respond "not in my back yard," said Wilf Sommerkorn, the director of Davis County's economic-development office.

"There is a definite attitude problem with multifamily housing," said Richard Walker, a planner with the Utah Department of Community and Economic De-vel-op-ment.

"Mostly because of the perception that it concentrates low-income people and therefore it's going to be a law-enforcement problem and a maintenance problem," he said.

Several of Davis County's larger rural towns say they have nothing against apartments or the people who live in them but are more concerned about the density of the area's population.

But some of the same towns that want to stay rural residentially are expanding themselves commercially.

Centerville, for example, recently put a six-month moratorium on multifamily housing while officials review the city's general plan. Mayor Priscilla Todd said no matter how the general plan may change, she is comfortable with the city's level of 12 percent multifamily housing.

But the city, like many along I-15, is trying to create a strong commercial district to take advantage of the county's massive growth.

To support those retail and service businesses, a town needs multifamily housing for the people who work there, said Lane Nielson, a planner with the Wasatch Front Regional Council.

Planners and housing advocates not only must convince towns that multifamily housing will not be a detriment, they also must make a case for why it is in their interest, Sommerkorn said.