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A major piece of southwestern Salt Lake County's future is falling into place.
Municipal planners in Riverton gave initial approval Thursday to a Daybreak-like development proposed by a real estate arm of the LDS Church for the city's west side.
The bundle of zoning, design and legal documents now awaiting final review by Riverton's City Council sets a framework for bringing new corporate headquarters, tall office towers, hundreds of stores and other businesses, a light-rail hub and nearly 3,800 homes to 543 acres of farmland along the Herriman border.
The proposal is designed to create more walkable, millennial-friendly centers, mixing commercial and residential uses across the area, in hopes of spawning high-quality neighborhoods, restaurants and other amenities that backers say could rival those in Salt Lake City.
"Nothing in Riverton has been built like this," said longtime resident Dan McCay, a state lawmaker and vice president of church-owned Suburban Land Reserve (SLR).
If adopted, officials said, the new master plan promises to expand the suburban community of 41,457 in unprecedented ways, with impacts felt across the region.
The draft plan follows city approval in late December of Mountain View Place at Riverton, an 85-acre lifestyle shopping center to be built by California developer CenterCal at 13400 South and Mountain View Corridor.
"We want to create a community around that, with a vibrancy capable of supporting it," Riverton City Planner Jason Lethbridge said.
Thanks to the planned shopping center, nearby highway upgrades and a future TRAX extension, "Riverton city is primed to become a destination for major employment," said Scott Polikov, a church-hired consultant and founder of Gateway Planning in Dallas.
The rezone is likely to draw final approval by month's end, but a timeline for how the development will unfold has yet to emerge. Backers say that will depend on demand from developers, homeowners and prospective business tenants.
Timing also hinges on pending state expansion of the Mountain View Corridor and a proposed east-west TRAX line set to run through the area. Those, officials said, are likely years away.
Drawn heavily from a $1.5 billion transit-oriented development in the north Dallas-Fort Worth area called CityLine, SLR's plan would interlace commercial areas and clusters of single-family and multifamily homes with a network of public squares, plazas, walking trails, pocket and neighborhood parks, community gardens and pedestrian boulevards.
With high-density echoes of Daybreak, a popular master-planned community in neighboring South Jordan, the plan marks a sharp departure from conventional, parcel-based zoning toward what planning experts call form-based code, meant to encourage more compact, diverse construction.
"A different tool is being proposed," Lethbridge said, "a different way of looking at development of the property."
The documents also grant SLR special leeway in how and what it can build on the Hamilton Farms site and adjoining properties.
In what city officials see as a historic first, SLR and the developers it plans to enlist would be allowed to blend housing types and densities, residential and commercial uses and varied architectural styles to suit shifting market demand rather than city code.
Riverton's Planning Commission offered minor but important changes to the proposal Thursday.
It tweaked setback standards; provided for perimeter fencing in some locations; and added protections for a handful of existing homes and businesses whose properties abut the project.
More crucially, the commission sought additional review of community-level construction plans as they come forward.
"The details matter," Commissioner Jim Webb told city staffers and SLR officials in an email.
Those few adjacent homeowners who spoke at Thursday's hearing said they welcomed SLR's plans.
"We really like the concept," said Jason Bradford, who lives just north of the project. Another landowner said the plans would prompt other development nearby.
"We hope we can fall in line with what the church is doing here," said resident Matt Theobald.
Under the proposal, housing density allowed on the project would be set at seven residential units per acre overall. But SLR and its developers would get to allocate exact densities, area by area, within the development's boundaries, as they and their customers see fit.
Officials from SLR said latitude on mixed-use zoning will help maximize future value of the site, used for generations in farming operations run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While church officials preferred to keep the land in crop production, McCay said, surrounding residential growth and resulting commuter traffic are no longer compatible with farming.
"We're extremely interested," he said, "in preserving the quality of the community where we own property. ... The first acre we sell, we need to be as valuable as the last acre we sell, if not more."