Some Highland residents worried about possible new zoning laws

May 9, 2018, 5:07 PM | Updated: 9:13 pm

HIGHLAND, Utah – Statues don’t have to speak a word to say a lot.

One look at the statue of a father and mother swinging their child in front of Highland City Hall lets you know immediately the small city is proud to be a place where families can grow.

Highland City Hall

“It is a wonderful place to raise a family,” said Josh Little. “It’s just wonderful and beautiful here.”

It’s part of why Little came here from Michigan almost seven years ago.

He liked how Highland’s zoning laws required larger lots for single family homes, spreading homes out and giving a nice small town feeling.

Josh Little and neighbors

“We moved here because we wanted the quiet country feel. We’re not interested in living in a city. We wanted to be close to convenience, but not within convenience,” said Little.

However, zoning laws now have Little concerned.

His property borders a large piece of land locals know as the one with the red barn and longhorns.

Red barn on the property that could be zoned for higher density housing

It’s just off the main highway at 6000 West.

The landowner is selling to a developer who wants the city to change the zoning to fit more homes into smaller spaces as part of a mixed-use plan.

Little started a website, morehighland.com and is organizing other residents who feel the same way he does… that Highland should stay Highland, and not go the way many other cities have along the Wasatch Front when it comes to zoning and development.

Josh Little’s sign outside his Highland home

“We have something so special here and I think that’s why we need to protect it,” said Little.

It’s another example of Utah’s tremendous growth.

Erin Wells, Highland’s assistant city administrator, says she understands the concerns people have on both sides.

“Utah is a great place to live and everybody is trying to live here, which is a challenge for cities to keep up with that growth as development occurs. It is a very controversial piece of land. It’s 78 acres, a large parcel of land right at the entrance of Highland,” said Wells.

Highland, Utah, May 9, 2018

Wells also notes city leaders haven’t made any decisions yet.

A neighborhood meeting is planned for Wednesday night at 7 at city hall where neighbors can speak to the developer about plans for the lands.

The city planning commission is set to meet next week to talk about the zoning laws and possible changes.

After that meeting, the planning commission will make recommendations to the city council.

The city council meets again in mid-June.

In the meantime, those against allowing smaller lots are hoping to let city leaders know how they feel.

“It’s important for us to let them know our feelings and let the other citizens of Highland know why we love Highland,” said Robin Beck.

“It’s that quality of life we moved here for. It’s different,” said resident Erin Strong, who moved to Highland from San Francisco about four years ago. “You’re driving around Utah County, you get to Highland, and you just feel different.”

It’s that difference many residents say is worth fighting for.

Longhorn on the property that may be zoned for higher density housing

“This is not about being anti-development or anti-taxes or saving the longhorns. None of that,” said Little. “In fact, we’re pro-development. We want to work with the city. We want to work with the developer. We just want it to be what Highland is and what we moved here for.”

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Some Highland residents worried about possible new zoning laws