New Growth in Layton City: a Good Thing

With Utah’s population growth among the highest in the nation, Layton City is expected to grow by about 32,000 new residents over the next 25 years, reaching a population of nearly 112,000 by 2045. A high birth rate in Utah accounts for about two thirds of the population increase, while a healthy economy attracts about one third of new residents relocating from other states.  The Gardner Institute estimates that by 2040 all available vacant land in Layton will be developed along with a majority of the Wasatch Front.  Growth equates to new homes, new shopping, expanded retail options, an increased tax base, and new opportunities.  Increased retail opportunity will follow as industry decisions typically focus on population, traffic, household income and disposable income.

Hill Air Force Base (HAFB) is a substantial contributor of economic activity for Layton City, and all of Northern Utah, and is the state’s largest employer. The main South Gate to HAFB and the East Gate are both located in Layton. The base will continue to be a major economic driver to Layton’s economic success. The maintenance of the F-35A Lightning II fighters at the base, and Northrop Grumman’s 20-year $63 billion contract for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program will only strengthen Layton’s economic position for many years to come. These two projects alone will create an estimated 7,000 – 10,000 new high paying jobs. In 2020 alone HAFB created approximately $1.44 billion in annual federal payroll, $2.5 billion in indirect jobs, $4.55 billion in total annual economic impact, and employed 22,566 personnel.  This economic impact is key to Layton’s economy and a major contributor behind the shopping, dining, and diverse housing opportunities we all appreciate.

Private property rights and the opportunity to pursue development of one’s property is inherently protected by Utah land use laws passed by the Utah Legislature over many decades.  Development will continue as families decide to pursue their right, and demand increases, populations increase, and new jobs attract new people.  Providing housing options for all existing, new, and expanding employment is critical to retaining employers that support our community.  How our community grows is up to us if we plan ahead. With current and future growth in mind, Layton’s leaders crafted and adopted a well-researched general plan. This plan provides guidance for land use policies and choices that help preserve the health, safety and well-being of residents, and the workforce in the community while enhancing quality of life and prosperity for future generations while planning for projected growth.

Some residents have expressed concerns about new private and public construction projects, including new housing. In recent years, destination states like Utah have become safer and more prosperous, causing an influx of wealthy residents. And, fewer residents are moving out of the state, according to a recent survey by the Utah Foundation. This has elevated the price of land and housing, compelling property owners to sell, and obtain the services of developers to build more.  This past fall it was estimated there were approximately 40,000 persons who needed a home along the Wasatch Front.  It was reported in March, 2021 that there were only 200 homes on the market in Davis County, which has grown to approximately 330 homes according to Zillow with 150 of those homes listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  We are failing to provide homes.

Reputable developers take care to balance the interests of the personal property owners they represent and their rights ensured by Utah code, their investors, and constructive feedback from local residents. A win-win often occurs with good collaboration and negotiation from all of the above. Conversely, non-constructive criticism often leads to more expensive and less desirable development.

Other citizens and officials support new construction, viewing it as necessary to keep living costs down and increase the number of people who can access some of Utah’s strongest job markets. These citizens propose that when urban populations grow rapidly, so too must the housing stock to stabilize prices. They typically support new housing growth.  As our local employers expand and grow, employment grows along with it.  A majority of Layton’s employers seek to hire locally if they can find qualified talent. This growth demands housing opportunities at all levels of affordability for their employees which in many cases includes our children, friends, or someone you know.

As stewards of land between the mountains and the Great Salt Lake, Layton’s leaders and staff recognize a responsibility to continuously advance quality of life measures, promote livability, safety, and healthy lifestyles for all members of our community. Layton will continue to encourage development opportunities that integrate families and households at various stages of life and income into healthy and vibrant neighborhoods with enduring value while doing our part to support our employers and their growing workforce. By providing anchors for employment, commercial services and places to enjoy every-day life for residents, Layton’s land use policies will support the well-being of residents today, while anticipating the needs of future generations.