“CHUBBUCK — The city has annexed 632 acres west of Interstate 15 to make way for a major “walkable” development of a similar vein to the large-scale Northgate project, which is early in construction on nearby land.
The City Council increased Chubbuck’s land mass by an estimated 24 percent Wednesday when it voted to annex the property from unincorporated Bannock County.
The new proposal calls for a pedestrian-friendly community with a mixture of residential and commercial properties, and lots of public amenities.×
It continues a “multi-use” development trend set by the Northgate project in northeast Pocatello, where builders similarly vow to produce a “walkable” community, encompassing thousands of homes, a commercial area and a technology park.
Both Northgate and the recently proposed Chubbuck development will be accessed by a “Northgate” interchange planned for completion late next summer.
The Chubbuck development has yet to be named, but has been informally described as “Chubbuck’s Northgate.”
It’s uncertain how many homes or businesses the project will include. But one of the developers, Lyn Yost of Tyhee expects to break ground next spring on 200 single-family and multi-family homes — valued at between $275,000 and $375,000 — as well as light commercial space within his 100 acres alone.
Some of his homes, in a “55 and active” area, will cater to senior residents who enjoy outdoor exercise but prefer smaller yards.
Chubbuck has averaged of about 2.5 percent annual growth throughout the past decade. But Yost is banking that a forthcoming expansion of the local FBI center will create hundreds of jobs and hasten that pace. He also noted that area housing inventories are historically low.
“This is more than a neighborhood. It’s truly a community,” Yost said. “While that market may not exist now with our current citizens, the FBI will be bringing in jobs from out of state, and they’re used to seeing that type of development.”
Yost and the other property owners of the annexed land are collaborating on a “master plan” to coordinate public amenities, such as parks, gazebos, paths and a pool.
Yost envisions creating a “walkable” community, where streets bustle with playing children, traffic moves slowly and residents spend a lot of time outdoors, hiking on a network of paved paths tying homes to public amenities and retail areas.
“The intent here is to truly become community builders, and not merely developers,” Yost said.
Yost said the project was made possible by a new “Creative Community” zoning classification, which the City Council also enacted Wednesday. The new zoning designation affords builders greater design flexibility, provided that their proposals aim to enhance safety and convenience for walkers, cyclists and children at play.
Chubbuck Planning and Development Director Devin Hillam explained Creative Community builders, such as Yost, will be free to submit applications with higher densities and smaller lot sizes than allowed under the general code, if it helps them add more community gardens and other public spaces. They may also propose streets that are narrower than city code allows to slow down traffic. Proposals under the zoning will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, Hillam said.
“(Creative Communities) are not designed around the needs of vehicles. They’re designed around the needs of people,” Hillam said.
Yost was one of several developers who joined the Chubbuck City Council on a late-spring trip to South Jordan, Utah, where they visited the progressive Daybreak community to get an idea of what a Creative Community should include.
The local school in Daybreak had hundreds of bicycles parked at its bike racks. Yards were small, but there were people outdoors walking and visiting. Walking paths, open spaces and public landscaping were ubiquitous.
“It’s getting away from that cookie-cutter development and something that has a little more design to it,” said Chubbuck Mayor Kevin England. “As I talk to developers, they are excited about it.”
Hillam said driveways accessing homes in Daybreak weren’t connected to streets, allowing pedestrians to use sidewalks without fear of backing cars. Homes in Daybreak had rear-loaded garages or carports accessing alleys. Hillam said streets in Daybreak were intentionally curvy, and both shoulders were open to on-street parking to calm motorized traffic.
Yost said his neighborhood will include many of the same elements as Daybreak, including narrow streets and nontraditional garages. Yost prefers “subservient” garages, positioned on the rear or side of homes to emphasize a home’s front porch, thereby encouraging neighbors to socialize.”