Heber expands city limits for Red Ledges
Wasatch County, including Heber City is booming.
"We have the most growth of any county in the state," said Elizabeth Hokanson, Heber City Councilmember.
With the growth, however, comes an increased demand for commercial development, and that isn’t sitting well with some residents.
"Some of the public feel that this rural way of life, it will destroy it," said Terry Lange, another Heber City Council member. "If they didn’t want anyone to come to Wasatch County, they should have put a gate up there and not let anybody in."
Recently there has been a controversy about bringing big-box stores like Wal-Mart into town and now there is another development, Red Ledges, which the council recently approved.
Red Ledges, a 1,900-acre private mountain and golf community located on the east side of town, has been annexed into the Heber City limits and is poised to begin construction later this year.
This annexation approval came after months of public hearings and an agreement between Heber City, Wasatch County, Twin Creeks Special Service District and Red Ledges.
"We appreciate all of the parties who worked so diligently to help to reach this important agreement for Red Ledges," said Todd Cates, managing director of Red Ledges. "We now look forward to working with the city to become a positive and productive member of the community and to continue to set standards that will benefit the Heber area."
As part of the agreement, Red Ledges will donate and maintain 15-acres for a public park. It will build a bypass road along the eastern boundary of the park to help re-direct traffic off of Center Street and the Twin Creeks Special Service District will provide all water and sewer services.
The community’s amenities will include a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, Cliff Drysdale Tennis Academy with indoor and outdoor tennis courts, an Equestrian Center and a Village Center with a pool, kid’s cabin, spa, and fitness center, a private chalet at Deer Valley, and a public equestrian center.
A trail system running through Red Ledges will connect to the County Trail System and 400 acres will be deeded to the County for perpetual open space. Red Ledges will donate land for a new fire station and $1 million to help renovate Center Street and a $4.5 million mitigation fee will be paid to Wasatch County.
"We’ve always been interested in helping the community upgrade," Cates said. "Some of the ideas were purchasing open space or recreational facilities."
While there was some debate surrounding Red Ledges, it was nothing like the big-box issue, partly because Red Ledges is providing open space and an additional road.
"We are excited about it, to have a high-end development and the ability to make a nice piece of property into something special," Hokanson said. "We haven’t had as many people against the development as a whole."
Even though the approval of Red Ledges came at a similar time as the big-box store debate, the two aren’t linked.
"It’s part of the city’s growth, but it’s coincidental that they are happening at the same time," Hokanson said.
Lange said more residents want open space and this development provides what the city wants.
"They’re building a 15-acre park. There are some small parks here but nothing in that magnitude. It’ll be a fine development and an asset when it’s developed," Lange said. "I wouldn’t support it if I didn’t feel it would benefit the community."
Some citizens, however, are still concerned about how much traffic the new developments will generate.
"There are so many developments to the east of Heber City and into the county and they are right now, funneling down to Main Street," Hokanson said. "It’s causing a dramatic impact on those streets.
The bypass road that Red Ledges will be constructing could alleviate some of the quagmire.
"It certainly could. It causes a different approach to traffic," Hokanson said. "This way there’s another corridor that takes these cars off Center and Main Street and onto a corridor that doesn’t have stop signs, out to Main Street beyond the business district."
Hokanson added that the council didn’t approve of the project merely because of the road, but the road could be a huge benefit to the city.
"Without Red Ledges, I don’t know how the corridor would be possible," Hokanson said. "There is no end in sight to the growth in the east part of the county. With the topography to the land in the east, there aren’t many other options for corridors. We would be in a difficult situation without it."
Cates said the "bypass road was a crucial link to the plans we put together" among the other amenities.
"To have the city and county working on this, we think it’s going to be just excellent and a wonderful addition to the valley," Cates said.
Red Ledges was designed by M. Anthony Burns and Nolan Archibald. Burns’ wife, Joyce, grew up in Heber Valley and wanted to design something the community and her family could take pride in.
"We came in and said we’d really like to do something that’s world-class and would really add to the pride that people in the community have," Cates said. "I think that’s a positive to what we are doing. We saw it as a valuable area and a part of it is family ties and doing something the family could be proud of for the future."
Plans are set to begin breaking ground in May and the whole development could take as long as 10-14 years to be completed, Cates said.
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