‘Residents come first’ - how Herriman’s Community Outreach program is changing the city
Oct 22, 2019 01:46PM
● By Justin Adams
A map showing the various ‘communities’ in Herriman: 1 - Herriman, 2 - Herriman Northwest, 3 - Butterfield Canyon, 4 - Rose Canyon, 5 - Blackridge, 6 - Juniper Crest, 7 - Mountain View. (Herriman City)
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
A few years ago, Herriman city officials were receiving numerous complaints from residents who felt that their voices weren’t being heard in the course of city business, particularly during the application process for new developments. The city’s response: the Community Outreach program.
Established two years ago, the program requires potential developers to meet with residents and hear their concerns before their applications ever make it in front of the city’s planning commission or city council.
“We wanted to create a program that would give the ability to our residents to have their voices heard before any projects were presented to any decision-making body,” explained Sandra Llewellyn, economic development director.
The city is broken down into seven communities. Each of those communities has a resident who has volunteered to act as a facilitator. Their job is to coordinate with the developer to plan and execute a neighborhood meeting.
The developer is responsible for sending out notices to all residents within a certain distance of their proposed project. (Initially those sentences were sent out seven days in advance, but have since moved back to 10 days in advance.)
During the meetings, the developer presents their site plans to the community, who in return gives feedback to the developer.
“They end up working out a lot of the issues before the application even gets to the planning commission or city council,” said Tami Moody, director of administration and communication.
For example, last month the South Valley Journal reported on how a proposed development by Edge Homes made significant changes to its plan after holding a neighborhood meeting. Those changes were met with residents’ applause at a subsequent neighborhood meeting.
One would think that these extra requirements would be a deterrent to developers, but Councilman Clint Smith said the developers he’s spoken with have appreciated the program.
“They said it’s been a tremendous help to them because it allows them to get out in front of some issues. They’ve been very appreciative and supportive of the program. That’s a testament to what the program was intended to do,” he said.
The program has led to many Herriman residents becoming more involved in the city, including one resident who started as a community facilitator and has since become a member of the city’s planning commission, according to Llewellyn.
“It all boils down to, come be a part of the solution. We really want to get in tune with our residents, their suggestions and thoughts. Come get involved,” she said.
“It puts the residents as the priority,” said Councilwoman Nicole Martin during an Oct. 10 city council work meeting in which the program was discussed.
“You always felt that developers came in and it was one-and-done, they were there to make a profit. The standard we set with this program is, that is not good enough for us in Herriman. We want community builders,” Martin said.
Participation in the community meetings isn’t limited to only the residents who receive notices by mail. Any resident in the city can opt to be notified about the meetings.
First, residents can sign up for text alerts from the city by clicking on ‘Alertext’ under the city website’s ‘City Services’ tab.
Second, residents can join one of seven Facebook groups that correspond to the city’s seven communities. Community facilitators double as admins for the groups, where they share notices about upcoming neighborhood meetings and other useful information.