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Limiting multiple housing in some areas of town may backfire and open up parts of town that were never intended to experience high density.

As Orem's City Council continues Tuesday, Nov. 26, to look at the zoning ordinance amendment involving planned residential development, that's one of the concerns members have been asked to look at.Under the proposed amendment sent forward to the council from the Planning Commission, Orem would be carved up into eight or nine planning areas divided by major arterial roads.

Those areas would have to meet a ratio of at least 70 percent single-family dwellings to no more than 30 percent multiple family housing. The 70/30 ratio would apply throughout the city, effectively mixing up the populace and spreading the density more fairly, say proponents.

Development Services representative Bob Moore, introducing the idea in public hearing, said the ratio will help control growth in Orem, slowing down dense growth until more single-family dwellings are built.

Mayor Stella Welsh said everyone will have to remember that multiple-family development - defined as any unit with a common wall - has to include condominiums, town houses and senior citizen housing. Councilman David Palfreyman said a 70/30 ration would make it inherently difficult to provide the student housing that's badly needed in the area around Utah Valley State College.

Councilman Timothy Christensen urged the council to consider making the standard for the west side of town more liberal than the standard for the rest of the city.

He also pointed out that the ordinance as proposed will force multiple-family development into "some of the prime areas of the city," a side effect the council may not want to cause.

Councilman Stephen Sandstrom said the City Council needs to be more concerned with quality than with density. He agreed that while the ordinance attempts to limit multiple-family development, it will open up areas that have never allowed high-density housing before. "I'm not sure I want to see some of the zones opened up," said Sandstrom.

Councilwoman Judy Bell said multiple-housing development is increasing substantially each year, jumping from 10 percent of the total building permits issued in 1991 to 67 percent in 1996.

Bell said it might be time to control growth.

Councilman Steve Heinz said the cumulative effect of the proposal is "debilitating to developers, contractors, homeowners and people looking for housing."

A number of homebuilders have said they cannot build single-family starter homes in Orem they can sell for less than $100,000. They said they're forced to go outside the community to build.