HEBER CITY — Heber City was ranked fifth in a study analyzing where people have been moving to during the pandemic. The study cited in the New York Times showed many people moving out of crowded urban areas to places where the atmosphere was a little more rural — but that's also causing problems in smaller metro areas unaccustomed to rapid growth.
Heber has grown by about 45% over the past 10 years. Mayor Kelleen Potter says it's "been really crazy."
"I guess it's because I talk to people all the time, 'Hi! I'm from Atlanta,' or 'I'm from Chicago,' or from LA or California," she said.
But she said there are a fair share who have come from just up the road in Park City, Salt Lake City or the Wasatch Front.
Why are people moving to Heber?
Shawn Seager, planning director with the Mountainland Association of Governments, has been watching the growth in Heber City for many years.
"Controlling that growth is the challenge, making sure that it reflects the quality of life that existing residents currently enjoy," Seager told KSL NewsRadio. The attractions include "gorgeous views, as you know, of Mount Timpanogos and access to the metro area. Just down the road, 20 minutes, is a Costco."
Easy access to the Salt Lake City International Airport is also something residents value, according to Seager.
Andrew Gruber, executive director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council, said he isn't surprised people are seeking out a place to live such as Heber City during the pandemic, but he said Utah has a responsibility to look beyond that.
"We're very focused on the current impacts of the pandemic and being able to get back to normal life again as soon as we can," he said. "What we also have to think about though, is the long-term implications."
Among those, he lists transportation and housing in rapidly growing areas of the Wasatch Back, such as Heber, as well as the urban areas of the Wasatch Front.
Mayor Potter said a lot of people who've moved to Heber City in recent years like the way things used to be. There's been public pushback, she said, on things like zoning changes and a bond issue to build a new high school. But, she said, "We can't just shut the gates."