UVU’s Board of Trustees released a statement in support of Orem City’s vote on Proposition 5, which is the proposed zone change in the Palos Verdes neighborhood.

The zoning change would allow Property Enhancement Group (PEG) to develop high-density student housing on the property known as Palos Verdes.

The development became political after Orem residents expressed their displeasure with the zoning change and petitioned to put the issue on the November 2018 ballot.

“The scope of the referendum that created Proposition 5 is, by law, to specifically uphold the 5-2 vote of the Orem City Council on February 13, 2018. The referendum is not about high-density housing issues throughout Orem,” the Board said.

Orem city council approved the zone change February 13, 2018, but the project hit a roadblock when Orem residents petitioned to have the change placed on the November ballot.

Residents in Orem fear that the development will increase traffic around UVU and are concerned about the safety of the students attending Lakeridge Junior High.

Mark Tippets, director of Let Orem Vote, said that he is concerned about the zone change because of the potential for pedestrian-involved accidents near the junior high. According to its website, Let Orem Vote “is a Utah Political Issues Committee dedicated to giving the citizens of Orem a stronger voice.”

According to the Board statement, there will be a traffic light and crosswalk built on the corner of 960 S. and 400 W. to combat “potential pedestrian concerns.”

Tippets has previously said that the Utah Department of Transportation’s ITE Trip Rates show that housing structure will increase traffic in the area.

“For the proposed 1605-bed housing project, there is an expected increase of 5,378 vehicle trips per day with 450 vehicles in the a.m. peak hour and 642 in the p.m. peak hour,” Tippets said.

Yet, the Board’s statement said that student’s use of public transit has reduced traffic on and around campus; it did not provide any statistics.

According to Let Orem Vote’s website, residents feel that “the City Council has turned a deaf ear to the homeowners.”

However, UVU’s statement contends that the university has held more than 40 open meetings with residents, neighbors, developers, university officials and Orem City. The university said that these meetings have helped shape its master plan for the coming years.

The Board of Trustees statement clarifies that this particular zone change “is not about high-density housing issues around Orem.”

Proposition 5 is only about upholding Orem City Council’s vote to allow student housing on the land known as Palos Verdes,” the Board said.

The statement also said that the project will bring approximately $400,000 in property tax revenue to the Alpine School District and that Orem City will receive approximately $74,000 in property tax revenue.

However, if UVU owns the property, the city will not receive any tax revenue from the property.

“It is the belief and position of UVU and the Board that passing Proposition 5 will improve the UVU student learning experience, mitigate traffic issues, and preserve the integrity of surrounding neighborhoods,” the Board said.

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