There many laws in Utah that govern how communities can control growth. This is a “private property rights” state, which means owners of property have certain rights (often transferred to a developer) to develop their property. Zoning helps control and focus those rights in the direction that the community desires. Zoning reinforces the community vision and general plan.
When a property owner or their developer applies for a development approval within an existing zoning district, and has provided all the information and paid appropriate fees, they become “entitled” to what the zone allows. Such approvals are not discretionary. This means that the city has to process the application, and, when it meets the city’s standards, it “shall be approved” as per state law. Applications that are already complete for processing, must be allowed to continue.
General plans are long term plans that will move development in the direction that the community desires over time. In the short run, some decisions are already in motion and are very difficult to change, but over much longer periods of time, the development pattern conforms to the community vision.
The vision and general planning process is following and participating in these other studies. The studies will have impacts that will affect the general plan, but they will most likely be completed after the vision and general plan are adopted. The vision and general plan will help inform those studies about the direction the community is heading.
A moratorium is a tool that many communities use to hit the “pause” button for a particular issue. By state law they can only be used for six months. During those six months, a community needs to complete a study and determine a means to address the issue. The vision and general plan process has been proposed for approximately a one-year time period and will not be accomplished in the timeframe that state law specifies.
Projects that are already entitled or in process with a complete application are exempt from a moratorium. There always are many projects occurring in growing communities. A general plan update typically happens alongside continued community growth.
Open space is land in a predominantly undeveloped condition (not characterized by buildings) and has value for ecological, agricultural, recreational, scenic, or other cultural reasons. Open space may be preserved, enhanced or restored in order to maintain or improve these values. For example, it could be preserved or restored to its natural state, enhanced for a park-like space, or used for agricultural purposes. Open space can be private or publicly owned. In Heber, “rural character” is often associated with open space.
A center is a place where land uses are blended and often concentrated, enabling people to live, work, play, and learn in a single, walkable place.
In clustered development, housing or other buildings are focused onto a small portion of a parcel, leaving significant open space undeveloped. To do this, development the development potential for the entire site is built in a smaller area instead, making permanent open space preservation possible. For example, a large landowner could choose to build a center and preserve surrounding open space instead of building a dispersed development that covers the entire parcel. Or a smaller landowner could build a rural residential cluster, which concentrates development into a small area in order to preserve a large percentage of the parcel for continued agricultural use, a shared equestrian facility, or another rural use.