Orem officials don't know how long Utah Department of Transportation powers-that-be will take before deciding to widen 800 North to seven lanes.
The officials don't know whether they want the land needed for the wider road to come from the north or the south.They aren't sure what they want 800 North to be when it grows up in 20 years and exceeds its traffic capacity.
They do know they want some time to think about it.
So the council voted Tuesday night to have the staff bring back a draft to the May 6 meeting for a moratorium of not more than six months on development along the corridor.
After nearly three hours discussion about the future of 800 North, only that came through clearly.
A presentation from public works director Richard Manning seemed only to confuse the matter because Manning said there is really no way to predict when and what UDOT will do with the road expansion. The road is currently third on the list of priorities for Orem with improvement to the 1200 South interchange and completion of State Street ahead of it.
Manning said nothing should be done to distract UDOT from giving its immediate attention to 1200 South.
But 800 North is already providing Level C service to motorists and becoming a Level D artery. Only Levels E and F are worse.
Manning explained that taking property from the north side of the road to add lanes and 10-foot shoulders that would provide for a bike path would accomplish a dual goal.
The access to 800 North would be more limited with fewer driveways opening onto the road and the property for widening could be obtained in a manner that would keep the road straight.
It would require that the city buy a number of homes and seriously cut into the residential area along the roadway on the stretch between 100 West and 1400 to 1500 East just before the mouth of Provo canyon.
If land were taken from the south side, the road would meander to include several vacant lot areas.
Manning said the city could begin to get ready for the widening process but if Orem buys homes along the north side for UDOT, the city could not expect reimbursement for its outlay.
But he said the city probably ought to determine which way it would want to go to avoid allowing more building that might have to be removed.
It was also noted that if an Olympic venue is located in the Provo area, 800 North would probably move up on UDOT's priority list for improvement.
Manning said in six months that question will be answered.
However, the road is really a federal highway and even UDOT can't say for sure what and when improvements will come, he added.
In the same meeting, a request from Harmon's grocery store chain set off considerable debate about whether another major supermarket should go in on 800 North, bringing additional traffic and activity to the already busy street.
Council members agreed that the Harmon's request has to be granted because the existing zone allows a grocery store, but it also served to push the council to unanimously approve the development moratorium before other applications come in for approval.
"We need a vision for 800 North. A moratorium makes sense to me," said Councilman Timothy Christensen.
Councilman David Palfreyman said a moratorium "for this situation, for this property" is the right decision. Chris Yandow, also a councilman, said while he recognizes how serious a moratorium is, "I recognize what's going on in this area of the city."
Councilman Stephen Sandstrom placed the motion, supported unanimously.