A respect for the desires of the community, rather than "Fear of the Big Box," is what is motivating those "opposing" a Big Box. Someone opined in the Wave of the supposed "Fear" driving opposition.
A mere year and half ago the Heber City Council placed a cap on retail business at 60,000 sq. ft. in response to the expressed desires of the vast majority of the Heber Valley. This action followed a public hearing Jun 6, 2005; the public response was overwhelmingly in favor of the cap on retail business size. The minutes of that meeting can be found on Heber City’’s website.
Next week the Heber City Council will be considering eliminating that cap and raising the limit to 200,000 sq. ft. AND allowing 55 ft. high buildings (isn’’t that FIVE stories?) AND allowing a housing density of 30 dwelling units per acre of land.
Thousands of Heber citizens' tax dollars have been spent on a Dan Jones survey and a Big Box study on the issue. The survey of Heber, and other Wasatch County, residents clearly indicated they did not want (or need) a Big Box. More retail - yes! Big Box - NO!
Here are a few of the survey responses:
- When asked in for an open answer (#6) "What do you like best about living in the Heber City are?" about 60% specifically responded with terms like "rural," "small town," "peaceful," "remoteness," and "beauty."
- When asked (#7) for desired "major improvements," 28 % said "more shopping facilities." Reading the comments, one finds that means "mom and pop" stores, restaurants, movies, small retail stores, etc. - a mere 4% suggested a Big Box.
- In answer to (#42) "What projects or services would you like," only 12% called for "more retail shopping" and, again, a mere 4% (9 out of 236) indicated a desire for a Big Box.
- "How important is it to you that Heber City have that small-town character?" (#43) gets an astounding 89% answering IMPORTANT!!
The $10,000 big box study showed the pros and cons of the potential arrival of a big box in the valley; mostly negatives. The report indicated a net financial gain to Heber’’s coffers of less than $200,000 on estimated gross sales of $37 million - hardly a massive windfall.
The Heber City General Plan clearly calls for promoting MAIN STREET business: "Main Street is the economic, architectural and historical heart of the community. The most powerful and lasting image associated with Heber City is Main Street. " "Promote downtown as a distinctive shopping area emphasizing it as an attractive meeting place and staging area for festivals, special events, celebrations and a variety of community activities."
The actual law capping the size of retail buildings includes the wording "Attempts to circumvent or exceed this maximum, 60,000 square feet, shall be strictly prohibited." This wording is in ALL of the commercial zones. I leave it to the Heber citizens to determine the meaning of those statements.
All of these reports are available on Heber City’’s website. I wish everyone would read them - especially the City Council, before they make a decision. Is this proposed increase being done for the "health, safety and welfare of the community" our, in other words, for the benefit of the Heber Valley as a whole; or is it merely another benefit being freely offered to developers (out of town ones, at that).
Fear of Big Box - no, I don’’t think so. Respect for the desires of the community - priceless.