Development Proves to be Double-Edged Sword

Development Proves to be Double-Edged Sword

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Richard Piatt reporting Development is a double-edged sword. Citizens like the convenience of a new shopping mall. Government likes the tax base.

But new development means fewer wide-open spaces. Should we be worried?

It seems there is construction everywhere these days. After a recent development story, one viewer called me and said, "What's wrong with leaving a corn field a corn field? When is enough enough?" It's a good question.

The story was the announcement that IKEA is coming to Draper. In Spring 2007 there'll be a 310-thousand square foot store--- and parking lot ---on 40 acres, in what now is a corn field. For the city of Draper, this project struck a 'development-and -common good' balance.

Darrell Smith/ Draper Mayor: "Just with the location, I think it's minimal impact with the traffic and the residential portion of our community."

It's another 40 acre lot in a region where thousands of acres are being developed every year.

In Lehi, a huge shopping complex is planned.

Housing developments replace farm-land and open space, from one end of the state to the other. In fact, Southern Utah is quickly becoming a major population center.

It is well within property owners rights to sell the land. It's the developers right to obtain permits, build, and re-sell it.

Brent Overson/ Former Salt Lake County Commissioner: "You go up into Heber and unincorporated areas of Wasatch County, people are just chomping at the bit to build stuff. And it's because of the demand."

Demand doesn't seem to be slowing, according to a former Salt Lake county official who now sells real estate.

You may ask: When will enough be enough? The answer is: Economic or natural limits.

Randy Horiuchi/ Salt Lake County Council Member: "The number one thing that will stop development from growing in this great valley is water. If the water stops flowing, that's when things will stop."

The bottom line is: Utah is a hotspot right now. For so many in the know, managing growth is a more realistic goal than stopping it.

The other option is for government to buy land, to keep it from being developed. But that would take hundreds of millions of dollars, and we'd all pay for it with higher taxes.

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