Residents of the commuter community of Fruit Heights are facing a modern day “David vs Goliath” story. The upcoming UDOT US -89 Project will further separate the “City of Good Neighbors”, by converting US 89 into a mini I-15. Residents are asking “what is the precedent for bisecting a residential community with an expressway?” Riding on the momentum of other communities who have had recent success in stopping big government from rolling over the greater interest of residents, like Better Bountiful and their rally for “No New City Hall”, residents of Fruit Heights are just beginning their stand.
Currently the new expressway calls for removing most of the access points, greatly complicating things for residents who currently live near and access US-89. Residents from Farmington to South Weber have had a great number of access points until summer 2016 when some access points were removed in preparation for the new project. The UDOT plan calls for further limitations by removing all those access points and replacing them with at least 4 interchanges, causing impact to property values and major disruption to residents along the 11 mile future expressway. Fruit Heights will have HWY 89 raised above the current grade, putting a great burden on the corridor’s smallest community.
Fruit Height’s City Council strongly supports UDOT’s plans in spite of their constituents’ calls for more logical thought and consideration of impact to residents. Fruit Heights residents are feeling frustrated by their City Council’s lack of communication and listening to their concerns. Heather Bodily, a concerned resident, states, “There are many issues facing the city with the proposed construction for US-89 and certain pieces of this intricate puzzle are important to different residents, but I think we all agree that this proposed project is creating detrimental polarization of our beautiful community.”
The proposed 25-foot-high overpass of US-89 over Nicholls Road is the largest and most devastating feature of the project for homeowners living at and near that intersection. Rachel Bergeson, one of the most affected residents says “If it wasn’t bad enough that this project calls for the closing of access to 89 at Nicholls Rd, the plan also calls for putting a huge concrete wall in my backyard and the yard of my immediate neighbors!”
Facing what residents are calling a “lack of representation by their elected local government officials”, they have joined together to create a community action committee called A Finer Fruit Heights. The group includes citizens from various parts of the city. A Finer Fruit Heights stands to challenge the city council and UDOT with thought and logic on the impacts this project has on the entire community.
“The need for the group arose from the frustration we and our neighbors are feeling regarding this UDOT US-89 Project encompassing Farmington, Fruit Heights, Kaysville, Layton and South Weber County. We’re going to our city council and being told ‘This is not a democracy’. We can’t help but feel that there are forces lurking behind the scenes on this project. We simply want more transparency and the opportunity to see the data prior to any absolute determination being made”, said a spokesperson for the group.
In fact the group, A Finer Fruit Heights, has already achieved what they are calling a small victory. Group member John Pohlman, “We have been able to meet with the Project Manager for UDOT on this Project and they are willing to come to the table to hear and discuss our issues.” Tonight there will be a UDOT Public Information Meeting held on March 30th from 6-7:30 p.m. for the US-89 Nicholls Crossing Project at the Farmington Community Center (120 Main St).
An email invitation with more details was sent to all of those that had previously provided their email address for the project to date. UDOT is also coordinating with the City to communicate the meeting information. “Please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to be added to the email notice.” – Amalia Andrews, UDOT Consultant Public Information Manager
A Finer Fruit Heights feel that they have been given no choice but to become a formally organized group. Their mission is “Protecting the City of Good Neighbors” and bringing attention to issues important to all city residents–not just what City Council wants. The group spokesperson went on to say,” There are many issues facing this project and though all may not be important to some, when added together the issues effect ALL the residents of Fruit Heights.”
“Fruit Heights City Council insists that the proposed overpass is positive for the city as a whole. As I add it up, the cons dramatically outweigh the pros for most residents. So I have to wonder, just who really is the benefactor of this project?” asks group member, Amy Canter.
Resident and group member Kristi Bybee stated, “NO OVERPASS! I think that the more people become familiar with the issues we’re facing by separating our great community of close neighbors, they can see that cutting our city in half with a major expressway is going to have long lasting effects on our community. All we ask is that this be done with the foresight and best practice of doing what is right because it is right!”
A Finer Fruit Heights is asking all the residents of their community to join them in their discussion on Facebook as well as on their website www.FinerFruitHeights.us