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West Valley City Journal

Despite ‘unique character’ of 5450 West, new development to feature curb and gutter

Feb 07, 2022 03:38PM ● By Travis Barton

Trees and no curb, gutter or sidewalk line 5450 West. Trying to maintain the character of the street played a role in the council’s ultimately approving a development along the road. (Courtesy West Valley City)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

5450 West will look a little different going forward. 

The street, known for its agricultural feel with looping trees, recently had a development approved by the West Valley City Council that will see 12 homes built at about 3700 South. The council approved a zone change moving the 4.4 acres of land to Residential Estate where the 12 lots will average just over 15,000 square feet. 

Approval of the zone change and subsequent development agreement with the developer, Hamlet Homes, didn’t come without much discussion though as city officials weighed the need for curb, gutter and sidewalk against the unique feel of the neighborhood. 

Brent Beutler is a property owner along the street and grew up in the neighborhood. He encouraged the council to keep 5450 West devoid of as much curb, gutter and sidewalk as possible. 

“That street’s got a special ambiance with the big trees up there, it’d be horrible to see those go,” Beutler said. “I would encourage you if there’s some other way that it can be done without removing those big trees, let’s please do it because what a special place that is. I don’t think that exists anywhere else in West Valley and very few places in the whole valley.”

In the original proposal, city staff didn’t require curb and gutter for the development along 5450 West (five homes will front the street). While some sections have it, much of the street doesn’t, including an eight-lot development, The Reserve—approved in 2018—on the other side of the street. 

Both in the 2018 case and this case, city staff didn’t require it due to the “unique character of the street,” Community and Economic Development Director Steve Pastorik told the council in December.

Several members on the council noted curb and gutter is about safety to deal with stormwater. During the December council meeting and prior to the vote, Scott Harmon, speaking as a resident and incoming councilman at the time, said any new development should have curb, gutter and sidewalk. 

“We need to be not shortsighted and look at 15 or 20 years from now,” he said, noting areas that are redeveloped should also have curb and gutter. 

Former Mayor Ron Bigelow said at the time he felt curb, gutter and sidewalk was the inevitable outcome with agricultural properties being turned into subdivisions, despite his nostalgia.

“In many respects I wish that street could maintain its agricultural feel and still have the horse pastures,” he said before later adding, “but homes are going in and we’re headed that direction.” 

Rhett Olsen, a resident, told the council neighbors prioritize the trees in that location rather than curb, gutter and sidewalk being installed. 

“I don’t think there’s any one of us that want curb and gutter along 5450, it is a beautiful street,” Olsen said. He added the curb and gutter currently on the street removed “beautiful trees” when they were installed. 

While the council unanimously approved the zone change, the development agreement was amended as Karen Lang—then councilwoman, now mayor—motioned to add curb, gutter and sidewalk along 5450 West and the inlet of the subdivision if possible. Councilman Jake Fitisemanu added a provision that would encourage creative ways to preserve the existing trees. The development was approved 6-1 with Buhler dissenting. 

Lang said they “don’t want to have to do it later” noting transit will increase in that area with it adjoining 3500 South. 

Olsen also felt the development was a touch too dense since two of the lots needed a width reduction, noting the trees that surround the property line would be taken out. 

“It’s just sad to see us sacrificing trees that could have been saved if we had just been a little less dense,” he said. 

One other concern was the three flag lots as part of the development. Former Mayor Ron Bigelow and former Councilman Steve Buhler, who continuously voiced opposition to such lots during their tenures, did so one final time here.  

“I wish there was a better way to design that so it wouldn’t have those long, narrow driveways,” Bigelow said. Harmon also felt the incoming subdivision had too many flag lots. 

Due to the two existing homes on the property that will be kept was the reason for the flag lot design, Pastorik explained.