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DRAPER TIGHTLY LIMITS MULTIFAMILY HOMES

If you're a developer and you're thinking this might be a nice place to build apartments, town homes or condominiums, you're a little late.

You can forget about it for the next four or five years.The City Council on Tuesday severely limited the number of multifamily dwellings to be built here in the future.

The council's resolution, approved on a 4-1 vote, specifies that the number of apartments in Draper can be no greater than 8 percent of the number of existing single-family homes. The previous cap was 18 percent. It also created a quota for town homes and condominiums, limiting the quantity of those owner-occupied units to no more than 10 percent of the number of city's homes.

Draper has about 3,100 single-family residences, although the number grows almost daily in this booming burb. Using that figure and the new development caps, the city could allow no more than 248 apartments and 310 town homes and condos.

The trouble is, in the past year alone the city has given final approval for 644 apartments - 492 in the Pinnacle Pointe complex on 300 East and 152 in the American Heritage development on State Street. Four town home projects totaling 485 units also have at least partial approval, including the 192-unit Fields at Draper. That's a total of 1,129 units, equal to 36 percent of the number of single-family homes now in Draper - double the limit the council established Tuesday.

Assuming the two apartment complexes and four town home projects are completed, the number of multifamily units in Draper would not fall under the new caps until the next century, according to city planner Rob Smetana.

"We'd need to get up to about 6,500 single-family homes to get to that 18 percent," Smetana said. "At the rate we're going, it will be four or five years" before more multifamily developments are approved.

But Terry Diehl, a partner in the huge South Mountain development, said the city committed itself to allowing more multifamily housing in South Mountain when it approved the project's development agreement. And the master plan for the nearby Centennial development calls for at least 392 multifamily units.

The Planning Commission had recommended that the council impose a separate 18 percent cap on town homes and condos and retain the original 18 percent cap on apartments - a total of 36 percent. The city's planning staff recommended a 25 percent cap - 12 percent for apartments and 13 percent for town homes and condos. The council expressed more zeal.

"The main concern is most people want to see some of these things . . . built out, see how they fit, see what the demand is and what public sentiment is," Councilman Darrell Smith said. "We're still so new to this. None of them are built yet."

Smith, who voted in favor of the resolution, said the council could change its mind and raise either cap in the future.

Previously, city officials expressed pride in the 18 percent cap on apartments, calling it one of the more liberal allowances in the south valley. Now, Mayor Elaine Redd worries the city might be sending the wrong message.

"I think we could get some repercussions," Redd said.

The cap won't affect any pending multifamily development applications. There aren't any, Smetana said. But there has been talk.

"I think (developers) will want to come in and challenge (the resolution) because it's a hot market out there for condos right now," Smetana said. "Maybe this will head off those developers with less amicable thinking. . . . I've talked to a couple of developers and what they were proposing was not of the quality we've seen."

Smetana said the resolution could impact the availability of affordable housing, already in short supply here, by shifting the focus of construction back to single-family homes.

Town homes, defined as sharing common walls but not having other units above or below them, and condos, which can be sandwiched above or below other condos, carry relatively smaller price tags. One of Draper's four town-home projects is expected to sell two-bedroom units for as little as $105,000 - a real bargain out here. Another would feature two-bedroom dwellings starting in the $150,000s. The city has yet to consider a project involving condominiums.