Community talks continue as UVU and Orem work toward a master plan for growth

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Photo by Kim Bojorquez

Orem residents met Aug. 31 to propose solutions to problems they see as caused by the rapid encroachment of development, driven by the UVU growth, into their quiet, largely single-family neighborhoods.

Rising crime rates, illegal rentals, increased traffic and parking issues are their main concerns—issues that, many fear, will get worse as UVU continues to drive demand for development.

Sparked by recent student housing construction and future development plans, including the recent sale of properties adjacent to UVU in the Sunset Heights and Palos Verde neighborhoods, some locals have expressed frustration with the way development has been progressing.

In a series of community meetings, spanning almost a year, residents, city officials, housing developers and UVU administrators have attempted to come together to coordinate efforts in order to direct growth in a way that will be beneficial to all parties.

“What you’re seeing here is democracy in action. People who live anywhere want to feel like they’ve got a say in what their future is,” said Mike Lee, a local architect who lives north of campus.

Lee has volunteered his time to coordinate community efforts. He believes they can find a win-win stance for both the institution and its neighbors, as long as all sides are discussing the issues.

“UVU and what UVU becomes is what Orem becomes. The two will make or break together,” said Lee. “The master plan that is going on with the city needs to be coordinated [with UVU’s plan]. All I want is the community to be able to say something about those two master plans.”

City planner Brandon Stocksdale said Orem is trying to address issues as efficiently as possible, not just for Sunset Heights and Palos Verde, but for all 23 neighborhoods in the city.

He said input from these community meetings is important and added that the city is working with UVU in creating a master plan.

UVU is currently working on its own master plan, which the Board of Trustees and the Utah Board of Regents will vote on this fall. Cameron Martin, vice president of university relations, said that he will share a draft of the plan with the community, in order to gain feedback, before it is voted on by the boards.

Zach Steele is part of the family who recently sold their small farm, which is east of the Institute Parking Lot. He is also an MBA student at UVU.

According to Steele, his family has lived on and farmed the area since 1931, ten years before the college was established. Since then, the school has grown up around their property.

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