Applications withdrawn for Francis housing development
March 29, 2016
The applications for a controversial housing project in Francis City have been withdrawn, according to a memo from Francis City Planner Marci Burrell.
The concept subdivision, zone amendment and conditional use permit applications were for 16 multi-family housing units that would serve as model homes for a future development to be located at 285 E. 2200 S, in Francis.
The project would eventually include 128 townhomes in a gated community on nearly 20 acres. The property is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
However, a representatives for the developer, identified as Rick Christensen in Francis City Planning Commission minutes, also submitted a petition for annexation into the city and a concept plan for a hotel, restaurant, gas station and convenience store. Christensen said during recent meetings that the two developments are not exclusive or dependent on the other’s approval. The petition for that project has not yet been withdrawn.
Both proposals received strong pushback from residents when they were presented as preliminary concepts to commissioners during public hearings in January and February.
"This is wrong for our city," Mont Lundgreen said, according to the minutes of a planning commission hearing held Feb. 18. "We don’t need to get bigger, let’s make this a Mayberry Town. This is what we moved here for we don’t need curb and gutter, street lights or more parks."
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John Keyes testified this is "not Francis as I know, we try to hold to certain guidelines and to change it and put in all of this stuff will ruin our town."
"People come in here and want to make money and the more homes they can stack in the more money they make," Keyes said, according to the minutes. "So far in Francis we have been promised by almost every one of the developers that come in that they would give us commercial."
According to the minutes, Christensen was seeking input about what the city is "interested in and what would work" at the hearings before presenting a formal proposal to the city.
"When we started this process we looked to see what was needed here," Christensen states in the minutes. "We are developers, roof tops is what we do. The commercial was a thing to do to bring in some income and revenue into the town and the overnight rentals is an idea we come up with. The idea was to get the model homes on the church property because it was a faster way to get something going and get some action."
Christensen originally approached the Francis City Council about two months ago, according to City Council member ron Ames. Ames said at the time, council members were not "dead set against it" and were willing to get more information.
"It is a huge proposal and from what I have heard there are mixed feelings about it," Ames said. "There are large groups who want Francis to stay the same and never change, while there are other people who have moved to Francis because they like how it is and they want to be the last one to move in. And then there are some who like Francis for what it is, but think smart development can happen to add some commercial services."
Francis constantly struggles to provide services to its residents because there is no commercial tax base, which makes it difficult to raise funds, Ames said.
"This is all a complicated puzzle," Ames said. "I think it is good to have more commercial services to increase the tax base and provide services for the city, but I understand that people don’t want it to change. That’s the climate in Francis. A lot of people are resistant to change, but there are also people who are in favor of it, like me.
"I’m in favor of a hotel," he said. "I think the Kamas Valley needs a hotel. I think it just needs to be in the right place and on the right property whether it is a proposal like this in Francis or not."
Burrell said the city is not willing to comment on the withdrawn project or the pending annexation petition at this time.