Showing posts with label Big Box. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Big Box. Show all posts

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Continuing Saga of Wasatch City

Once upon a time in a quiet rural village nestled in the mountains of Utah, the villagers live in bucolic peace, comfort and tranquility. It was decided, by some of the outlanders, that the valley would be a lovely place for an international sporting event. Some of the villagers rejoiced and looked forward to an economic boom to be ushered in by the international acclaim. Some said, “there goes the neighborhood.”

Soon the local alfalfa growers learned that their land was more valuable than the crop – and could be made even more valuable by installing pipes in the ground to route various grades of polluted water and by gaining access to the reins of community power. They were soon followed by the outlander merchants desirous of peddling the wares to the new and old alike.

The economic boom was on, again some rejoiced, some regretted, some repented (although only a few.) "Bigger boxes, more sales, more revenue," cried the promoters. "Save open space, don't raise my taxes," murmured those concerned with providing the new schools and services and losing their beloved rural atmosphere. "Buy, buy, buy, sell, sell, sell, borrow, borrow, borrow, tax, tax, tax, spend, spend, spend" came the cry from national and local leaders (?).

Alas, the time came for the bubble to burst; half completed projects fell to the mortgage repo man. The bigger box promoter, after modifying the ribbons of travel lanes, to accommodate access to HIS project, wiped his dusty brow and moved his emphasis to the neighboring, and richer, village. The rural peasants, now subdued in their talk on saving the beloved rural community, were left with the single plea to try to help their fellow hometown merchants “Mayor Anderson, tear down that curb.”

Friday, June 06, 2008

HUB Intersection - Gridlock Coming Soon???

Let's talk TRAFFIC - Most Wasatch County residents have, I'm sure, noticed a massive increase in traffic in recent years to the residential growth. A new study has been released showing the effect of the Boyer Development (Valley Station, formerly Crossings at Heber, aka Walmart, Big Box, etc.) on the most crowded intersection in the Valley. US 40 and SR 189 or the Hub Intersection.

The DMJM Harris summarized results of the study can be downloaded here. This summary is based on the Boyer traffic analysis on the Heber City website. While that analysis contained a lot of numbers, it was short on conclusions. A private citizen hired a firm for an interpretation of the numbers.

The Conclusion: "The addition of project (Boyer development) traffic significantly increases the delay at the two intersections that operate poorly, and also cause the 910 South/100 West and US-40 and/1000 South intersection to change from an acceptable LOS (level of service) to LOS F."

Here's UDOT's definition of LOS F: "LOS F represents the breakdown of traffic flow – “failure” of the system.The condition exists wherever the amount of traffic approaching a point exceeds its capacity. Queues form behind such locations and vehicles may progress in a stop-and-go fashion. It can take two or more cycles to wait through a signal operating at LOS F."

The Harris study also reports that "Based on the Heber City criteria all intersection should be improved to LOS C or better." (Does this mean Heber City did not understand the numbers - or were ignoring them?)

As a result of this report another enterprising citizen has started a Petition to "
request that the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) WITHHOLD APPROVAL of the Boyer/Heber City access agreement for the US-40/US-189 intersection in Heber City, UT until a safer plan is in place."

The petition is available at various local businesses and online for signatures.

UDOT held a meeting in Heber in 2007 where the intersection was discussed a report of the meeting is available here. The complete official minutes are here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

People's Referendum Fails

Regrettably, too many listened to the propaganda by Boyer/Walmart outspending the local citizenry by probably 50 to 100 to one. (as predicted) The valiant effort by the citizens' referendum failed to stop the Big Box behemoth, proving once again that massive advertising campaigns with cutesy slogans seem to work (e.g. $900,000 benefits).

On the positive side there will be some new faces on the Council in January.

HOWEVER, the final decision has not been made on the design of the development. A few things can still be done to soften the blow to the Valley.

Especially with the 20 units per acre (or more) which will be requested under the newly approved zone. Explanations and lobbying must be offered to the Planning Commission and City Council members on at least TWO items:
  1. Planning for the location of the Bypass must be made BEFORE approving the Boyer Project.
  2. A proper fiscal IMPACT analysis must be made on the COSTS of the entire project (including housing) to Wasatch County residents (which all Heber residents are) - including potential education and school construction costs. Any benefits (sales tax) should be based on population - NOT on sq ft of the proposed stores. It would seem likely that a store in a market of 22,000 will not have the same revenue as one in a large metropolitan area.
They also should be reminded that just because MURCZA may ALLOW 20 per acre and 150K sq ft, Heber does NOT have to allow these maximums. The project should be built to conform with the general plan AND the wishes of the community. The vote, while legally binding, represented less than 23% of the registered Heber voters and barely 10% of County voters.

Hardly an overwhelming mandate!!

ALL county residents WILL be affected by this development.

Recommended/required for all concerned:
  • The MURCZ code itself (Voter Info pamphlet)
Previous posting on this blog may also be helpful.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Big Box Advertisement response

In response to the full page 10/10/07 ad in the Wasatch Wave (one of a $$$ series), I offer this response:

MIXED UP Chaos Zone

So why would someone like me vote AGAINST the proposed Mixed Use Big Box ordinance?

10 Shopping Convenience: Many Heber Valley residents enjoy an occasional shopping trip to the "big city" only to return to the rural, small town in which they enjoy living.

9 More Time With the Family: If you are spending two trips a week solely to shop in Provo, you may need to either plan better, shop locally or take the family with you.

8 A Stronger Local Economy: Generating a large customer base to support Big Boxes will only cause MORE Growth to feed the incipient beast sending revenues out of the valley.

7 Improved Roads: How in the world does drastically increasing traffic into the most congestion intersection in the Valley improve roads? That congestion may even eat up the suggested saved "time with the family" with local traffic delays.

6 More Money for Education: Sure, there may be some increase in property tax - which will be OFFSET by the education costs of the NEW High Density development allow in the new zone - 20 units per acre or 200 to 300 units stacked 55 ft high, (or 300 new children at $4,000 education cost each or $1.2 Million - for starters.) How much DID your taxes increase this year?

5 A Better Environment?: MORE traffic, MORE emissions, MORE pollution and LESS rural and small town, which the community has said for years is our desire.

4 Additional Restaurants: Will this offset the "Family Dinner Day"? (Eat with your children and save the family resolution) Are more Fast Foods NEEDED?

3 It's the Wrong Time: Why fuel even more explosive growth? Is there never an end to expansion, if Heber City can't grow OUT must it grow UP? Or should it just 'grow up' and respect the community wishes.

2 More Money in your Wallet: The overestimated gas saving predicted will be offset by in INCREASED taxes to cover the extra costs of the proposed development. An annexation study (potential tax income) is NOT a fiscal IMPACT study (costs to the Heber/Wasatch County residents - Heber residents are also county taxpayers)

1 Voting AGAINST the Mixed Up Residential Chaos Zone will help maintain the small town desire clearly expressed by the community.

As always, call their comment line to listen to the circular recording and to have your telephone number collected.

It's a matter of choice - Big city vs. Small town We may already be too late for the "small" town can we at least try to avoid the CITY.

Regrettably, as a non Heber City resident I'm unable to vote on the issue in the upcoming election; hopefully my fellow County residents living inside Heber will not be swayed by thousands of dollars for a series of full page ads to promote a narrow self interest ($$$) but will speak for the community as a whole and reject this proposal!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bypass, Big Box

Wasatch County (via MAG RPO) gave a good presentation (large file) to the Transportation Commission this morning about Heber Main Street traffic, the West Bypass road, the River Road intersection and "the Hub" US40/189 intersection. Included were resolutions from Wasatch and Heber supporting the bypass.

The reported traffic study (2005) showed 25,000 vehicles per day on Main Street, they estimate it is probably up to 28,000 now, which should be no surprise to those in the valley. That appears to be the third highest traffic numbers in Wasatch and Summit counties; compared to 44,000 on I-15 at Parley's Canyon and 33,000 on the road by the Canyons Resort and about the fourth highest in all of northern Utah outside of the metropolitan areas of Utah and Salt Lake Counties.

Five percent of the Main St. traffic are trucks. 46% of the through traffic uses 189; 32 % US 40; and 22% 189 to 40 East Councilman Mike Kohler mentioned it was important to get this done before the current plan date of 2030.

The first comment after the presentation, from UDOT (Commissioner Glen Brown) was about the Hub intersection: (paraphrased) "Putting a big development at that intersection will really cause a lot more congestion. Why are you permitting it?"

A minor discussion resulted in Heber City Councilman Terry Lange's comment (paraphrased), "There's a referendum on the issue this November." Brown responded, "Oh, it's that controversial."

A UDOT employee (?) said, "We'll be happy to give you traffic information on big developments."

UDOT Commission Chair Adams then asked, "Will there be commercial (Big Box developer) participation in the Hub intersection costs?"

Discussion ensued on the development's frontage, bypass location between 189 to 40, etc.

Kohler: "It's proposed as limited access, there's no plan for access to the development from the Bypass, we haven't decided on the final part of the road to US 40."

Adams: "I think we need to get working on that intersection now, why wait."

On the subject of the interchange at River Road, the UDOT Committee indicated that they thought the plan was already in process and had been delayed by needed funding for Provo Canyon. Corridor preservation funds should be available to the required property.

Committee members were very impressed with the current work being done for the project and seemed quite encouraging about the entire project, but no motion was made for action.

Minutes of the meeting
should be available in a month or so.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Heber City Council Candidates

In reverse alphabetical order:

Michael Thurber - 1162 W Countryside Cir; 654-1926; Midway Postmaster; former Planning Commissioner; member Big Box study committee; Wife is Heber City recorder;

Eric Straddeck - 446 N 1300 E; 657-0891; Effective Business Solutions, Inc.; Owner (?) TigerLight, Inc

Kieth Rawlings - 126 W 500N; 657 1999; Planning Commission ; Voted for Big Box on PC

Perry Rose - Former Heber City Police Sergeant; Checker Auto

Robert Patterson - school teacher; wife also

Sandy Mahoney - 418 S 200 W; 654 3244; Board of adjustment; KTMP owner

Shari Lazenby
- 809 E 220 N; 654-2964; incumbent; Voted for Big Box

Terry Lange
- 1030 N. Willow Way; 654-3568; incumbent; Big Box?

Nile Horner
- 777 E 600 S; 6541804; wife on school board

Daniel Drew
- 602 E 550 S; 657 9642; teacher; ran against Snow for UT Rep

10 total Primary Sep 11 to narrow to six for November election

Issues: Big Box, Growth, Annexations

2005 Election
For Mayor

David R. Phillips 959 58.12%
Shari K. Lazenby 691 41.88%

For Councilmember Vote for 2

Jeffery M. Bradshaw 921 29.44%
Elizabeth Hokanson 817 26.12%
John Hayes Burns 707 22.60%
Michael Thurber 683 21.84%

2003 Election City Council

Shari Lazenby 547
Vaun A. Shelton 504
Terry Wm. Lange 491
- - - - - - - - -
Michael Thurber 416
Julie Hardman 395
Sherman Christen 352

Big Box comments by candidates June 6, 2005 when the CAP was set at 60,000 sq.ft. on retail business:

Councilmember Terry Wm. Lange – “We came to listen. We have learned from all of you the general way people feel.” He said it was important to him to know how the general pubic felt. He suggested this might be a very long-term ordinance change or it might be very short ordinance change. He indicated he would vote the way most of the public wanted. “I hope, as a City Council, we can take the advice and make the best decision we can.” He thanked those that attended and participated in the Hearing.
In 2006, he voted against the MURCZA ordinance allowing Big Box ???

Councilmember Lazenby indicated she had no opinion for it or against it. “Its not about me, its not about my store.” She indicated she would go with the majority. She reviewed the breakdown of the survey of individual responses. She concluded that the majority was for a cap on retail size buildings. Councilmember Lazenby reviewed her summary of the survey. She commented on page 25 and 38 of the General Plan. She indicated her vote would be for the CAP but because it was not perfect, there needed to be further study. In 2006, she voted FOR the MURCZA ordinance allowing Big Box

2005 election comments

• (Mayoral candidate) Lazenby, 34, wants city government to start treating constituents like customers. Lazenby, who owns a shoe store, said Heber officials should respond better to residents and business owners through "a mission-driven work environment that gives them the authority to perform their jobs more effectively." That approach would help the city "be better prepared to serve and find obtainable solutions" to its problems.

• Kieth Rawlings, 50, wants to make city government "more open through accessible, honest and accountable city officials." Rawlings, who owns a property management company, thinks that "through communication we can develop a better relationship with our business community."

• Mike Thurber, 59, said that projects residents want can't be funded with existing tax revenue. "Without commercial opportunity in the city, seniors and young families on limited incomes are most negatively impacted by rising property taxes to fund special projects." Thurber, a postmaster, wants Heber "to plan ahead for new areas for industry and other commercial growth and then actively pursue new business."

Monday, April 16, 2007

New Telephone Poll on Big Box

A telephone poll is being conducted in Wasatch County by "Western Research" for an unnamed client:


Does Heber City have enough retail?

Would you prefer services (like police and fire ??) to be paid by propertytax or sales tax.

Does Heber need a WalMart?

Development proposes Lowe's and other stores, do you favor that being built?

If the vote were held today, would you vote to repeal the ordinance?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Wal-Mart Gears Up for Campaign in Heber

Apr 11, 2007 by Julie Rose (KCPW News)

Anti-big box organizers in Heber collected enough signatures to get the city's big-box zoning ordinance on this November's ballot. But now they'll have to campaign against one of the world's wealthiest corporate giants for enough votes to quash "big box" stores in Heber.

Wal-Mart spokesman Gray McGinnis thinks a "silent majority" of voters will welcome his store with open arms: "A well-organized minority can very effectively drive the agenda, regardless of the needs and wants of a silent majority," says McGinnis. "So in the past we have run campaigns to bring out our supporters and ensure the city council knows that Wal-Mart is very welcome in the community."

Heber City has an estimated population of nine-thousand people, of whom some 14-hundred registered voters signed the petition to put big-box zoning on the ballot. Citizens group "Put Heber Valley First" is trying reverse a recent Heber City Council decision to allow retail outlets larger than 60-thousand square feet. The group worries big retailers like Wal-Mart will force locally-owned shops out of business.

McGinnis says Heber will benefit by keeping more shoppers in town:
"Currently the majority of the Heber shoppers are driving to Provo to fulfill their everyday shopping needs," says McGinnis. "And these sales tax dollars directly benefit the community - to funding parks, police, fire and other municipal services in Summit County."

Don't expect to see Wal-Mart's name splashed on campaign signs and pamphlets leading into the November election. McGinnis says The Boyer Company, which is proposing the development, will lead the campaign with funding from Wal-Mart.

Big-box on ballot: Heber voters score a chance to vote on Wal-MartSalt Lake Tribune, UT - 19 hours agoAnd they found more than 1400 fellow citizens who want a chance to tell the big-box retail giant to peddle its cheap wares elsewhere. Put Heber Valley First ...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

BIG BOX repeal on the ballot

The referendum petition was reportedly certified by the County Clerk today.

1658 Signatures submitted
1424 Certified as valid - others were not registered, duplicates, non Heber, etc.

As under 1200 were required by law to put the item on the ballot; it appears that Heber citizens WILL have the opportunity to repeal the MURCZA zone allowing 150,000 (or more) sqft retail businesses and five story condo units at 20 (?) units per acre.

Heber City Council basically ignored the petition signers:

Ballot box may decide big-box issue in Heber City
By Christopher Smart The Salt Lake TribuneSalt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:04/09/2007 12:24:49 AM MDT
The Heber City Council voted last week to zone 70 acres for big-box retail - despite a petition drive to allow voters to determine whether such large structures should be built within city limits.

A grass-roots organization called "Put Heber Valley First" needed to gather the signatures of 1,160 registered Heber City voters to put the referendum on the November ballot. They submitted 1,595 names to City Hall before the April 1 deadline.

Wasatch County Clerk Brent Titcomb is in the process of certifying the petition signatures. That tally should be complete this week. The petition push came in reaction to a February council vote to increase the limit on large retail outlets from 60,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet. That could set the stage for Wal-Mart.

Mayor Dave Phillips said Friday he believes there is a good chance the issue will go to voters. The Boyer Co., which is acquiring most of the 70 acres in question, had requested the rezone, Phillips said. "The developer knows it could go to a referendum," he said. Nonetheless, the council voted 4-1 for the rezone. Councilman Terry Lange cast the lone vote against the change.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Hokanson said the council didn't wait for the petition to be certified because "we wanted our intentions known." She pointed to a 2005 study that showed 90 percent of Heber City residents' nongrocery retail spending takes place outside Wasatch County. In addition, Hokanson said, Heber City leaders fear big-box retail could come to Wasatch County but be located outside city limits. "We want to broaden our commercial area and our tax base."

Monday, February 26, 2007

An Open Letter to Heber City Council

The Heber Big Box issue was recently on KSL Click here: broadcast on KSL!!!

Dear Heber City Council members,

Some momentous decision are apparently soon to be made on two items which will have a lasting and unchangeable effect on the Heber Valley. The removal of the cap on retail business (Big Box) and the approval of the Red Ledges development. I urge, in the strongest terms, that a slow and deliberate process be made in the consideration of these items.

Probably the best thing that has happened as a result of the proposed Red Ledges development is seeing the County and Heber City working together to attempt to solve mutual problems. One of the saddest things about that cooperation is that the solution seems to be more to the advantage of the developer than the consideration of the health, safety and welfare of the Heber Valley community as a whole.

The issue of density was apparently not considered in the Interlocal agreement, the developer’s proposal of 1370 was accepted as the maximum density allowed. The original allowed density was under 100 ERU's, as purchased, on the current county portion of the land.

A plan is being formulated by the County Conservation/Open Space committee and was planned to be implemented for this development. This was to be in coordination with all governmental entities in the valley and talks are reportedly being held to implement the plan. Under the plan, the open space mitigation fee structure for "zone changes," which would include Red Ledges, is being proposed as 12.5% of the lot value times the density increase.

The proposed mitigation fee in the Interlocal Agreement of $4.5 Million is off by a factor of over 10. At an approximate 750 increase in houses requested by the zone change, times $600K average lot price at 12.5% equals $56 Million. With the annexation approval this would now be limited to $4.5 Million. Is this to the benefit of the community or the developer?

As is generally agreed by everyone interested in this issue, the primary (if not sole) reason for the annexation petition by the developer was DENSITY. The primary (if not the sole) reason for consideration of the petition by Heber City was money - in proposed taxes and fees. The city has NOT done any independent analysis of the fiscal impact figures presented by the developer as was promised by Heber City Manager (see podcast of interview with Mark Anderson labeled "city part I" and "city part II")

Many of the developer’s figures are suspect, in my opinion, and overestimated in the developer's favor. At the very least, an analysis needs to be done for a conservative impact of costs and benefits - to the City AND to the county, in general. ALL Heber City residents are also Wasatch County residents, but the City fiscal impact analyses generally ignore the County (and school) costs.

The Red Ledges project has little positive effect or benefit on the "health, safety and welfare" of the community as a whole, which is, or should be, the major deciding factor in these issues.

The Red Ledges developer extols three "benefits" on their website :

  • Money - taxes which may be overestimated and costs which may be underestimated.
  • Public Facilities - of which there may be a few for the community, a private golf course not included.
  • Prestige - Wasatch County is already World Class as proven by all of those desiring to come and those desiring to stay.

There are similar financial analysis problems with the new "unlimited’ mixed use zone and the proposed Boyer development. An analysis of these financial impacts - other than that presented by the developer - should be a MINIMUM requirement for approval consideration. I strongly urge you to revisit Heber’s $10,000 study on the Big Box - it was far from a ringing endorsement of the concept. The Dan Jones survey - including the comments - also needs to be read and heeded - not to mention listening to the strong opposition shown consistently and recently by your constituents.

I won't even mention the traffic issues, which have dominated the discussion so far and still have NOT been solved. The Boyer development will virtually destroy the current concept for the Western bypass. Red Ledges agreement apparently builds a road to nowhere.

In the final analysis, these projects are mainly about one thing - profit for the developer. At the Aug 14 2006 joint County City meeting, the County Manager wisely asked this rhetorical question: "Is it the government's responsibility to maximize the profit to someone that owns property or let them develop under guidelines that are socially compatible with the people that live here?"

The answer to that question, in my opinion, should be your guide to a decision to continue with the protest. To me the answer is clear; maximizing developer profit is not the responsibility of government; protecting the welfare and property rights of the community, as a whole, IS.
This is an opportune time to continue a discussion between all of the entities in the Heber Valley to work, in conjunction, to implement the various General Plans and attempt to retain the rural, small town environment that is cherished by the residents. I strongly urge you to do the right thing for the residents of your community.

Council people, the decision is yours now on both of these issues. Approval of either one will drastically change the face and future of this Valley, in ways not generally favored by the residents OR contemplated in the current Heber City and Wasatch County General Plans. Do the right thing, follow the wishes of the Heber Valley residents.

Heber City Council Comments on the Big Box Cap 2005

Comments from the Heber City Council about the Big Box June 6, 2005 when the CAP was set at 60,000 sq.ft. on retail business:
  • Councilmember Terry Wm. Lange – “We came to listen. We have learned from all of you the general way people feel.” He said it was important to him to know how the general pubic felt. He suggested this might be a very long-term ordinance change or it might be very short ordinance change. He indicated he would vote the way most of the public wanted. “I hope, as a City Council, we can take the advice and make the best decision we can.” He thanked those that attended and participated in the Hearing.

  • Councilmember (NOW mayor) Dave Phillips - “We have just experienced one of the greatest entitlements of being in this Country.” He said the Big Box Committee made a great presentation to the City Council last Thursday and indicated they had found some middle ground. They suggested the CAP be passed but incorporate some middle ground into it. “We can be the master of our own destiny,” he said. “We can have other opportunities to improve our tax base and have convenient shopping,” he continued. He suggested the Committee didn’t just pull 75,000 square feet out of the air--there was a reason for it.

  • Councilmember Lazenby indicated she had no opinion for it or against it. “Its not about me, its not about my store.” She indicated she would go with the majority. She reviewed the breakdown of the survey of individual responses. She concluded that the majority was for a cap on retail size buildings. Councilmember Lazenby reviewed her summary of the survey. She commented on page 25 and 38 of the General Plan. She indicated her vote would be for the CAP but because it was not perfect, there needed to be further study.

The Council then approved a CAP of 60,000 sq. ft.

To read the complete minutes with public comments, CLICK HERE

Excerpts From Heber City Big Box Presentation 2005

(Selected Excerpts)

Big Box Presentation by Heber City 5/27/05 (*$15,000 of Heber Tax money)

109,000 Sq. Ft. Smaller towns
150,000 Sq. Ft. Market areas of 20,000-30,000
180,000 Sq. Ft. Market areas of 30,000-50,000
220,000 Sq. Ft. Market areas larger than 50,000

  • Heber cannot rely on an increased trade area to mitigate impact of Wal-Mart
  • 80 percent of supermarket managers cite Wal-Mart as their biggest concern In the past decade 29 chains have sought bankruptcy, 25 of which cite Wal-Mart as a catalyst (Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2003).
  • Day’s Market and Smith’s Food and Drug will most likely experience a decrease in sales between 10 and 20 percent. (pg 26)
  • Anticipated Wal-Mart Sales:
    Square feet to be built: 107,000 Average sales per sf: $350
    Estimated Wal-Mart sales: $37.5 million
    Current County general merchandise sales: $2.1 million (pg 33)
  • Wal-Mart has provided seminars to local business owners on how to compete with Wal-Mart.cial Impacts
  • Heber City Revenue (Two columns depend on how much in "current sales" are lost ~ 30 or 50%)
    Highway tax (on sales) $88, 652 ..... $80,003
    Sales tax revenues .... $177, 303..... $160, 006
    Franchise tax revenues $7,313 ..... $7,313
    Property tax revenues ..... $16,791..... $16,791
    Total ............................... $290, 059 ..... $264,113 (pg 55)
    TOTAL(Wasatch County) ..............$124,504 ..... $115,855 (pg 56)

  • It will cost Heber department $45,050 per year to hire an additional officer to cover Wal- Mart calls.
  • Revenues ..............$290,000 ..... $264,000
    Police ..................... -$45,000 ..... -$45,000
    Public Works ......... -$26,000 ..... -$26,000
    TOTAL .................. $219,000 ..... $193,000 (pg 65)
  • Overlay Zone: a zone that imposes a set of additional requirements to those of the underlying zoning. Used to address special features or conditions of large commercial project. (added comment - not in study)
  • Local firms are better for local economy
    • Local firms generate 70 percent greater economic effect per square foot than chain stores (Civic Economics, The Andersonville Study of RetailEconomics, October 2004).
  • Local firms generate 58 percent greater economic effect per dollar of revenue than chain stores (Andersonville Study).

Source: Heber City, Utah website

* From minutes 2/17/2005 (click for actual minutes)

Update on Big Box Committee – "Review Scope of Work: Anderson indicated Susie Becker, Wikstrom and Associates, attended the last meeting. She had been given information from the previous meeting and was there to address those issues. She received additional information from the committee to work on. Becker proposed a scope of work of $15,000; however, there would be some additional costs, such as a survey. The Council had authorized $25,000.

Anderson said he thought the group might be a little fuzzy as to their role but they were trying. Councilmember Phillips wondered if the group was focused and asked what had to be done to get them focused. Anderson talked that the group felt they needed to work with the Planning Commission to make sure ordinances deal with the issues.

Councilmember Phillips said his take from the beginning was that it was eventually going to happen so we ought to know the pluses and minus to the community. Anderson said if the ordinance is drafted along the line of the white paper, it would put the decision on the City Council.

Councilmember Phillips wanted the group to gather the facts and what the citizens feelings were. Then the elected officials would make decisions. (Mayor Adams arrived at 6:59.) Anderson talked to the group about the opinions of the city residents and how much weight ought to be given to the opinions of people that live outside the community."

Minutes 1/6/05

Big Box Committee – Membership and Scope of Authority: Mayor Adams indicated there needed to be some representation from the County on the Big Box Committee. He discussed the fact that a moratorium had been put into place and that this Committee needed to start its work.

It was recommended that Al Mickelsen and one of the County Councilmembers be on the Committee. Mike Davis indicated he would take that recommendation to their next work meeting. Councilmember Phillips suggested Mike Thurber as a Citizen-at-Large. Councilmember Lazenby suggested Corbin Gordon. Mayor Adams suggested Mary Noonan if Corbin was not able or interested.
Wasatch County Al Mickelsen
County Councilmember
Citizen-at-Large Mike Thurber
Amanda Lund
Corbin Gordon
CAMS Bryon Day
Mike Johnston
Pat Kohler
WEDO/CHAMBER Nelson Carter
Dick Buys
Governmental Rep. 1 from Midway
1 from Charleston
Public Safety Chief Rhoades
Plus three more as recommended by the Committee

Councilmember Burns moved to invite these people to serve on the Big Box Development Committee and give authority to them to invite three more of their choosing. Councilmember Lazenby made the second. The voting was unanimous in the affirmative.

Anderson indicated that staff had put together some recommendations for the Committee and, if approved by the Council, at one of their first meetings staff would educate the Committee and let them know what was expected. He proceeded by recommending that Wikstrom complete their study as authorized by City Council some time ago. That would then be presented to the Committee. Additionally their Scope of Authority would include:
1. Review of the Impact Study by Wikstrom
2. Review what the Planning Commission ordinance are that relate to big box and make suggestions
3. Disseminate findings through the media or public meetings
4. Develop tools or surveys that query different members of the Valley to get a representation of the people and what they want
5. Present results of study to the City Council

Minutes 5/5/2005

Mike Johnston, Big Box Committee Member, asked to give a progress report to the Council since there had been rumors and nonsense reported about what the Committee was doing and had been doing. He said he didn’t know where the rumors were coming from but understood this was a very controversial issue. So that the Council was not “sucked into the rumor mill’ he reviewed the following:
* The Committee first met in January--was into the moratorium one month already--only had about 90 days to really work
* They set up an agenda and an order of things to happen—they are doing a lot in 90 days
* In February and March met every two weeks. Discussed the information obtained at that point. Hired Wikstrom to gather information. Held the public meeting. He felt bad the slides were “awful.” The rumor that this was planned was “ludicrous.”
* They are preparing a lengthy article for next week’s paper that will review all the information, good and bad.
* Sent out Request for Proposal for Survey--choose Dan Jones. They met with Dan Jones one and a half weeks ago--the survey will begin next week.
* The Planning Commission has two ordinances to review--the public hearing is scheduled.
* The Committee will make a presentation to the Council on June 2.
* Facts are collectable
* It is difficult to collect facts on “quality of life,” etc.
* Survey will be 250 in City and 150 out of City

Mayor Adams asked if it would be better to get more input from the City residents. Discussion about the survey and statistics. Councilmember Lazenby questioned if the Committee had created the ordinance. She wanted to clarify information she had been given. Mike Thurber discussed the inaccurate information coming from the Council and felt it would slant the survey. He felt his name and the Committee had been slandered on the radio on Friday and was very upset about it.

Johnston continued to talk about the survey and spending an additional $300 to increase the number of questions—some not related to big box at all but of a general nature. Johnston said he wanted to make another comment “in public.” The rumor was the Committee was “pro” Wal-Mart. It had also been said on the radio the Committee was purposely slowing down the process, wanted to delay the issue and they were taking money. “The truth is everybody on this committee is very concerned about a big box coming to town and we are striving with all our might to be somewhat objective about it and present to you an objective report and not just view it through our own opinion because that is what you asked us to do.

” Where the rumors come from he didn’t know but they are “180 degrees” from the truth. He said the Committee debates all the time on how to be objective. Mayor Adams indicated he appreciated the work of the Committee and felt they were being objective. Mayor Adams thanked Johnston for his time and his work.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Fear of Big Box - NOT ! ! !

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.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The BIG BOX survey - May 2005

Talking about consistency of opinions, here a some from Heber City's "Big Box" survey. Many of the elected officials, appointed board members and associated bureaucrats are attempting to say that it was a clarion call for more retail stores, shopping and, of course, the ubiquitous BIG BOX.

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 somewhat (27%) or very (62%) important.

Other interesting responses:
69% seldom or never buy groceries "OUTSIDE of Wasatch County." (#58)
63% seldom or never buy gasoline "OUTSIDE of Wasatch County." (#63)
49% seldom or never buy hardware "OUTSIDE of Wasatch County." (#61)

61% supported an ordinance on retail store size. (#83, 84)
65% agree that "Large retail stores negatively impact local businesses." (#91)
55 % say "Large retail stores negatively the character of Main Street." (#93)

68% say Big Boxes will increase tax revenues, to which I respond Big Box Baloney.

Anyone wishing to read the entire results, the dusty archive of Heber City may be able to produce a copy - be sure to get the comments, too.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

More retail - or - Big Box

Congratulations to the Heber City Council for their rational decision on the Big Box. During that Public Meeting questions were raised about the apparent inconsistent desires of More Shopping Facilities (28% "would like to see in the next five years") vs. Small town feel (28% identified it as the "best about living in Heber). A closer analysis of those wanting more shopping showed that only a third wanted Walmart, Target, etc. but 2/3 of that category want various degrees of other types of retail business (restaurants, clothing, specialties, etc.)

While 5% indicated a desire for a new High School, another 5% decried the deficiencies in the general education system. 14% wanted growth control and 14% complained of traffic and road woes - generally a resultant problem of growth. Rural community and "Small town" were the big winners in the survey.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Big Box Baloney

Let me see if I understand this correctly. Some people believe we should embrace a 100,000 sq. ft. Walmart for economic reasons. According to the Heber City Big Box presentation we have "Sales Tax Leakage" on sales on "lost sales" of some $50 million dollars per year amounting to $290,000 per year. That amounts to approximately $3,000 spent out of Wasatch County (Heber City) for every man, woman and child in the County or about $10,000 for each family. Does your family spend and average of $800 per month on merchandise outside the county?

The proposed solution, WalMart, has a forecast sales projection of $1,618 for each person in the buying area or about $5,000 per family. The report also indicates that most local business will suffer 10 to 20% losses. This will reportedly add $200,000 to our tax coffers, (if the inflated projections hold true), or about $12 per person per year. Will your be spending that amount at WalMart, if they build here. Personally, I think my family may have spent $50 last year at WalMart and I doubt it would increase much - I'd rather pay the $12 in taxes.

Is it true that government (tax) incentives are being offered for WalMart to come? Leave the building size cap at 50,000 sq. ft. and continue to encourage people to buy more locally.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Cost of Growth

The Planning Department has a cost analysis program for developments which should provide breakdown of government cost numbers per family - at least per household. A minimal rough estimate was a $1000 increase in tax expenditures for every home built.

County portion of school costs are about $4,000 per student. The county budget will also provide the overall costs of government provide services, but it's difficult to allocate the costs by a per capita basis of increase in population. More people does not necessarily mean increase in use cost, in fact sometimes it may decrease per capita. - but you already knew that.

Admittedly I have not read the Wikstrom report, but according to Lisa Parkin's letter (very Pro BigBox) in the Wave today, we have a tax leakage on $29 million per year in sales. That amounts to an expenditure of about $6000 per year for every family in the county or $500 per month. Do you spend $500 per month on "groceries and general merchandise" outside of Wasatch? If so, would you stop because WalMart comes to town? Those figures, IMO, are grossly exaggerated. What is the actual sales projection for a Wasatch big box? How are those "tax benefits" computed. Personally, I'd be surprised if my family spent $20 last YEAR and I sincerely doubt that, WalMart was here that we'd spend $200 per year for some item of convenience that I could not get elsewhere. This is the same faulty logic used in the Airport economic analysis.

It is important to note that the sales tax goes mainly to Heber - not the county, Parkin quotes $77K to school (which would be offset by increased people moving in) and $89K to Wasatch.