The following is a letter from Farmington City Councilman Cory Ritz.
To all who have taken time to contact me regarding the West Davis Corridor issue;
I truly appreciate your time and effort, to get involved in important issues facing our town! Despite being out of town on business, I have wanted to individually respond to each of you. However, because of the large amount of emails I feel it is best to address the concerns and questions I have received, in this format, prior to the scheduled town hall meeting tomorrow night. I will attempt to address, at least in a macro scale, the issues that have been raised.
First let me respond to those who have stated, or implied, that the Mayor and /or the council have “ulterior motives”, “personal gain”, or ”bowed down to big money”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Mayor and council members have always put the greater good of Farmington as a whole first. In this experience, commercial and financial considerations have been one of our minor considerations. In fact, we voted to spend funds for a study; which would provide alternatives and solutions to our dilemma. The accusations and threats have been offensive; and honestly do not help in any reasonable discussion. Our Mayor in particular has served with fidelity and honor, and is particularly undeserving of the implications that have been made.
Any response to your questions must first begin with a bit of history. The gentleman who referred to his investment of “over a year” in this process, must realize that this process has been going on for over 8 years. Some neighborhoods have been actively involved in excess of 6 years. As I respond and try to explain; I will refer to the proposals as the NE (current C-1 along freeway and Shepherd Lane area), and SW (along Glover lane and out west).
Farmington’s planning commission and City Council decided several years ago to try to be pro-active; when it became apparent that a transportation corridor needed to be preserved. Before the beginning of construction of the Hunters Creek and Quail Crossing neighborhoods; long negotiations were had with developers looking to build in the area. As a result, concessions in density and neighborhood design were made; in order to preserve a corridor for a “Legacy North” connection. Homes were then built and sold in proximity to what was always intended to be a transportation corridor
for future “Legacy” needs.
When UDOT first came to Farmington with its first official request for corridor designation; the request was for a route that cut diagonally (along the D&RG rail bed) north through the west side of Farmington. This route would once again bisect our small city, by another major roadway. This would severely impact EVERY west side neighborhood; and harm county and other family facilities. At that time, after many difficult and heated meetings, the Planning commission gave a no vote on the request. UDOT revisited this idea, and the request was withdrawn. As a city, our first choice always was for the legacy connection to be in the existing transportation corridor, adjacent to the I-15 and Park Lane interchange. That is the reason why many had worked so hard to preserve a corridor. Originally, UDOT’s analysis at that time stated that neither the NE or the SW options were viable. After the withdrawal of the request, Farmington City Council authorized a transportation study to determine the validity of other options. Our goal was to find options less harmful to Farmington as a whole. With the assurance of UDOT, at the time, that the NE option could not happen; we approved our current transportation plan. This designated the SW route as our preferred alternative. The fact is that because Farmington City Council was proactive, it resulted in UDOT taking a more in depth look at the alternatives. It was also furthered by private input from a Farmington resident. UDOT has recently determined that not only did the SW alternative have merit; but that the NE alternative did as well. That NE planned alternative was what the community overwhelmingly supported during those first rounds of public hearings; and now looks to be UDOT’s preferred alternative at this time.
This recent request from UDOT to the Farmington City Council was for us to support the current C-1 (NE) alternative. This we could do in good conscience, since this is congruent with our original request to them; and the forward land use planning which we had previously done. At the same time we are choosing not to abandon our Master Transportation Plan which contains the designated SW option. Our desire is to do what makes the most sense for Farmington as a whole, and keep our preferred options open to accomplish this. However the NE (C-1) alternative more closely fits the original
desires, and planning by our community.
On a personal note, it is unfortunate that the road needs to be built and our community affected. Many have asked, “why do we have to say yes to anything UDOT requests”. Or “why don’t we just say NO!” Unfortunately, UDOT has the authority to build the road– and due to the narrow geographic nature of Farmington, we will all be affected. Whatever final route is chosen, it will impact some of our citizens and neighborhoods. Ironically, all previous proposals had roughly the same impact on the Shepherd lane area homes and SW Kaysville. Both of the current options result in roughly the same amount of disruption to W. Farmington. Under both scenarios roughly the same number of homes will be displaced. Roughly the same number of homes will be left within close proximity to the road. The shorter distance involved in the NE route should result in better mitigation. The addition of a Shepherd Lane local interchange adds accessibility to the transportation system, especially for north Farmington, and Kaysville residents. Does that take away the discouragement and frustration for those most closely affected–not in any way!
One focal point for the Farmington council will be to encourage UDOT to install effective mitigation along the sections of WDC that have proximity to neighborhoods. This should include berms, sound walls, and landscaping. If this is properly done, it will minimize sound and sight impacts. This, along with the “zero access, protected highway” concept, should alleviate and prevent most of the safety concerns that have been expressed.
As to the access concerns; rest assured that accessibility to and from various areas of town is one of our foremost concerns. City streets will continue to flow, and have connectivity, whether by means of under or overpasses. Access to the retail and commercial centers around Smiths will continue; as will access to the new center around the new Harmons and theaters which will open this May. Neighborhoods that have accessibility and safety issues to schools, will most assuredly be addressed by bus service or boundary adjustments. In all honesty, I believe that long before this road becomes a reality we may have a new school in west Farmington; which will change boundaries and student flow.
The same can be said for the many church attendance issues that were raised. Given the history of boundary movements and new ward creations; I am sure we will yet see many ward, and perhaps even stake, boundary adjustments. We are consciously addressing these road accesses, and similar issues raised by neighborhoods.
I personally live in West Farmington, and have always tried to fairly represent the views and concerns of my neighbors; as well as those I have had the opportunity to know throughout Farmington. I live in the central part of west Farmington, and our family will be equally affected by both options. One of my dear friends, who I love and respect, in all likelihood will at worst lose his home, or be severely affected by one of the proposed options. Because we have spent so much time trying to find solutions, we are not removed from the affects of this decision. The construction of this road, if it is deemed necessary by the state agencies, who truly control this decision, will move forward. However, UDOT hopefully will consider the needs and recommendations of a city council who tried to plan in advance, in order to protect their citizens. We hope that if, or when it occurs, it will be at a location that creates the least negative impacts. Hopefully we have suggested options that will provide some benefits to the city of Farmington. The interests of Farmington, as a whole, are best served by the NE (C-1) route in my opinion. I have worked with Farmington city leaders going back 10 years, during which time we have struggled and tried to proactively prepare. I hope at the end of this process, we can all be good neighbors, and work cooperatively to find the best way to influence this decision. Hopefully, we can come together to help implement it in a way that will minimize negative effects as much as we can. Hopefully, this gives some history and basis for Farmington’s city council decisions. We encourage Farmington citizens to come to our Town Hall discussion tomorrow night at 7:00 pm.
Cory R. Ritz
Member Farmington City Council
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Photos of West Farmington
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