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W. Point coping with growth

WEST POINT -- Despite having three public hearings Tuesday night that could lead to another 300 homes in the city, West Point Mayor Jay Ritchie doesn't believe that type of growth spurt is going to be typical for this rural community of 7,000 people. Still, he admits managing growth is the city's biggest challenge.

"There's a lot of pent-up demand," Ritchie said, referring to a recent delay in residential development approval caused by a revision of the city's general plan. "We put some people on hold."In a special set of three public hearings beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Lakeside Elementary School, residential rezone requests will be considered for 117 acres of open farmland, a commodity that outnumbers subdivisions by a more than 3-to-1 margin.

The evening's first rezone hearing will involve 173 acres at 200 S. 4200 West, where half-acre residential lots are proposed.

The second hearing is for 26.5 acres at 1300 N. 3500 West, where 12,000-square-foot building lots are planned.

The final hearing involves 18 acres at 350 N. 1700 West, where 9,000-square-foot lots -- some of the city's smallest ever -- are being sought.

Ritchie feels once these three hearings go through, growth will slow to a more manageable level for at least the near future.

"We're doing our best to run like a rural city," he said. "Many people want the old ways to stay. But the growth is coming, and

we can't put a gate on town."

The city completed its general plan revisions in December and is spending $52,000 on a master plan for an infrastructure-only study. This research, to be finished in the next four months, will examine the city's long-range sewer, water and storm sewer needs.

Ritchie said once that study is done, the city will have a model to more carefully examine future developments. He warns that each new development will have to improve infrastructure and carry its own weight.

Once this infrastructure study is done, he said the council can create a five-year capital projects plan that will include a new city hall. West Point has been using the historic 1915 Thurgood home for its city hall since 1983. Although it's a quaint and cozy place to hold meetings, there's only room for two dozen residents. Hence, Tuesday's hearings at Lakeside Elementary.

Ritchie said the new study will provide the city with a new "buildout" population estimate for the city. The old number, 21,500, likely is not accurate.

He said there's lots of county land in the area that West Point could someday annex, particularly on the south end of the city. However, Ritchie said there's no way he's going to annex any land from the northwest. While Hooper is looking to incorporate later this spring, one-third of its boundaries are not in Weber County but in Davis and won't be included in an incorporation.

He said West Point doesn't want south Hooper because the property eventually would require sewer lift stations because of the low elevations.

"I've got all the pumps I want," he said, explaining lift stations are pesky and expensive to maintain.

Ritchie stressed West Point wants to maintain its identity and manage growth properly, but he admits financial resources are a huge challenge.

"We're hanging by the tips of our fingernails. We walk a tight rope," he said.