In this post, candidates respond to one question:
For years we’ve heard reports that developers find the City so difficult to work with that many of them won’t build at all in American Fork. To what extent are these reports true? Is it a good thing? What if anything should elected City officials do about it?
For now, at least, since only one mayoral candidate (Brad Frost) and two city council candidates (Staci Carroll and Barbara Christiansen) have responded, I’m combining their answers into a single post. If I receive responses from other candidates, I’ll add them.
Brad Frost: “I believe there is substance to the stigma of our cities reputation as being challenging at times to build and develop. I think there have been efforts made in the last year and we are improving. We are seeing rapid growth and are subcontracting out some services to help offset the bubble. We are also finding that it is easy for a contractor to place blame on the city to a customer because they are not prepared to meet a deadline. Good communication is the key.”
Staci Carroll: “I do not have enough information to say if complaints about the development process are accurate. The growth we are experiencing shows developers are getting through the AF process well enough. I do want our city to grow, but to be smart about growth and to retain community values as we grow. Our city’s development regulations and permitting processes allow city staff, the planning commission, and council to ensure we are smart about growth. However, if elected, I would consider developer’s concerns and, if warranted, pursue changes. Development regulations should provide structure and predictability for developers and protect residents. Our processes need to ensure all parties are treated the same. All developers should go through the same process and follow the same rules. My objective would not be to eliminate all developer complaints, but to find a balanced solution that allows developers to thrive in our city while protecting values and needs of our residents.
“Second, the AF inspections process. Several years ago, my husband and I hired a general contractor to construct my house here in AF. The contractor constantly complained about how picky and uptight the AF inspectors were. From my perspective, I thought, “Thank you, AF inspectors, for doing your job.” I paid the city a fee to cover building code inspections and am glad the city was doing a thorough job. We worked with city inspectors again last year as we finished our basement. I thought they were fair. I can only assume that development inspections for construction of roads and utilities in AF are similar. So, yes, I do think these reports are generally true, but no, I’m not convinced these reports are necessarily a bad thing. From my perspective, AF city inspectors are doing our city and even developers a great service and they are upholding current laws. I am open to learning more and, if elected, work to achieve changes where they are warranted.”
Barbara Christiansen: “I have heard this complaint for a number of years. I know that strides have been taken to become more “developer friendly.” I am not sure it is enough. No matter what we do, we should not relax our adherence to the Uniform Building Code, to keep our residents safe. Part of the concern has arisen from the time it takes to study and approve potential plans. I think council members should work with the planning and engineering departments to streamline the process, which encourages quality development.”
Thanks to all the candidates who have responded. If and when the others wish to, I will gratefully post their responses as well.