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Thursday, January 11, 2007
Notes from American Fork

False alarms, a zoning overlay, dark fiber for ASD, a much-improved inner-block development, and, most interesting of all, American Fork leans on UDOT.

This week the American Fork City Council did several noteworthy things. The most interesting to me is listed last below.

Those Pesky False Alarms

Security alarm users with the appropriate permits will now be charged for some false alarms. Each permit holder gets two freebies per calendar year. The next four false alarms to which the American Fork Police Department responds will cost $50. The four after that will cost $100. After that -- still within a calendar year, remember -- the cost is $200 per call.

In case you're wondering, this doesn't apply to fire alarms. And a false alarm is defined in the ordinance as follows. (Brace yourself for government-speak.)

False Alarm: An alarm signal eliciting or having the effect of eliciting a request for police services, either directly or via a third party who hears or otherwise becomes aware thereof, when there is no evidence of a crime or other activity that warrants a call for immediate police assistance and no person who was on or near the property or has viewed a video communication from the property called for police assistance. Provided, that it shall not include an alarm signal caused by violent conditions of nature or other extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the alarm user. (Municipal Code 8.12.020(F), with original italics, underline, and boldface. Heaven help us.)

The City estimates the cost of its approximately 900 false alarms annually at $31,050. The cost per false alarm is said to be $34.50, including one man-hour of police time and dispatch costs.

Alpine School District Goes Over to the Dark Side, er, Fiber

The City Council approved a lease agreement with Alpine School District. ASD is leasing two of the City's fiber-optic lines for a total of $200 per month.

Marina Overlay Zone

After much labor by City staff, the City Council, and the Planning Commission, the Council established a new marina overlay zone, which will allow the City to regulate development near Utah Lake. This was spurred by a pending annexation of some land near the lake.

Serene Meadows

After the developer presented a plan with significant revisions, including changing all proposed multifamily structures to single family dwellings, the City Council approved what is essentially an inner-block development in the block bounded by 100 South, 200 South, 200 West, and 300 West in American Fork. My neighbors seem much happier about this than about the initial plan. (In September 2006 I praised my neighbors' exemplary civility in debating this matter.) The new plan is less likely to damage the neighborhood, more flexible in addressing neighbors who may want to sell some of their land later, and may actually help to stabilize this old neighborhood near the center of American Fork. Technically, the Council approved the "preliminary plat" under the City's cottage development ordinance.

American Fork Draws a Line in the Clay

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is studying possible locations for the Mountainview Corridor (or Mountainview Highway), which will run south from the Bangerter Highway into Utah County, approximately where Redwood Road now is, into Saratoga Springs, then run south across southern Lehi (north of Utah Lake), and then southeast to the Pleasant Grove I-15 interchange.

UDOT is considering two proposals for the location of the southern part of the highway. The sensible proposal seems to be to build the road along the 100-year flood line; the other proposal is further north. Development south of this line is undesirable for the obvious reason (flood) and to preserve wetlands. The thinking is that putting the road on this line will make it easier to stop development at the flood line than would be the case if the road were further north. Presumably, it would be easier to say, "No development south of the road," than it would be to stop encroachment if road is not there as a firm limit. ("Just 100 more feet. What will that hurt?" And so forth.) The northern alternative would also isolate a Lehi neighborhood from its surroundings.

The City Council adopting a resolution supporting UDOT's efforts, so long as the corridor follows the flood line and certain terms are met with respect to redesigning the American Fork Main Street/I-15 interchange. According to the resolution itself, the intent is "to encourage dispersal of through traffic away from the American Fork central business area."

The resolution also authorizes City staff and Council members to advocate this position and to work with UDOT, the Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG), and adjacent communities, "and to take such other actions would tend to support development of the City's preferred alternative." On the City's part, this level of lobbying is smart, necessary, and long overdue.

See the map on page 11 of MAG's Transportation System Needs document (part of the Regional Transportation Plan) for a sense of the Mountainview Corridor in general. See MFCC's blog for her take on this issue and two or three others.

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