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Investment group wants out of its Orem land trade

SHARE Investment group wants out of its Orem land trade

The investment group that traded 200 acres to Orem City for 54 acres last fall wants to trade back - unless the city agrees to let it reap some reward from its half of the exchange.

Duff Thompson, speaking in behalf of EsNet Management Corp. as Vineyard Partners, told the City Council Tuesday EsNet paid $4.2 million for the property and expects to be allowed to get that kind of value from the land.After the council deadlocked on whether to allow Vineyard Partners to make three minor modifications in its plans for townhouses and apartments on the 54 acres located at approximately 400 South and 1800 West, Thompson questioned whether the city intends to allow adequate development on the parcel at all.

He said the modifications Vineyard Partners is requesting simply deal with green space and parking and not with the larger issue of whether the development should occur.

"It seems to me that the city can't represent the value of the property as $4.2 million and then decide not to have anything developed," Thompson said.

Thompson said it is unacceptable for the city to keep the 200 acres being designed into recreational space and a municipal golf course and leave EsNet with 54 acres they cannot develop.

Neighbors from the East Lake subdivision near the area were poised to argue against the modifications that would allow Vineyard Partners to build three-story buildings instead of two-story buildings and push the number of apartments in a unit to 24 instead of 16.

Tandem parking would be allowed with a single-car garage counting as one parking stall and the driveway stall behind the garage as the second.

Thompson said the modifications would permit the builders to incorporate more green space in a more functional design. Housing units would be larger and more appealing to buyers. He said the density would not increase and buildings would stay under the 35-feet height allowance already permitted in the planned development (PD-16) zone.

He said neighbors have made it clear they want the city park they were originally promised before the city traded properties. He said more meetings would not serve to bring the two sides any closer together.

He said the PD-16 zone was theoretically designed to allow the project as is but would be enhanced by the changes.

"These are embellishments and would in no way detract," Thompson said.

Council members Judy Bell, Mike Thompson and David Palfreyman voted against granting the requests, saying they are not comfortable with any changes to a project that will be adding more traffic onto an already too-congested street.

Bell said she will stay consistent in voting against the project which she did not support when it was approved. Thompson said it's unsafe in the area already, and he can't separate the issues of traffic, congestion and zone modifications.

Palfreyman said, "You're cramming too much on too little."

Mayor Joe Nelson reminded the council that only the modifications were under discussion and not the viability of the project itself.

City attorney Paul Johnson said the applicants have the right to return and have their request heard by a full council and denied or approved by a quorum vote. Only six of the seven council members were present, and two motions-one to deny the application entirely and another to approve the tandem parking-tied 3-3 and died.