Take a look around Tooele Valley and what do you see? You see a gravel pit down south that was supposed to close down when the real estate development project it was created to supply was finished. It’s not closed down despite the fact that any reasonable person would conclude the project is finished. Our county government officials are doing nothing about it and the residents that are trying to get the original agreement enforced are up against a brick wall. Next stop, lawyers and courts.
A little further north and you come to Overlake where Tooele City and a real estate developer got into a disagreement that ended up in court with an initial judgment of tens of millions of dollars being granted in favor of the developer and against the taxpaying citizens of that city.
Move to the west from there and you come to Deseret Peak Complex and the Utah Motorsports Campus. Here sits a wonderful example of county government ineptitude at something as simple as following basic ethical rules for the sale of property to the highest bidder. Coupled with that is the inevitable lawsuit that is brewing between Grantsville and Tooele County over the sewer line extension contract and the annexation of parcels of land in that area into Grantsville.
Continuing to the west, to the heart of Grantsville itself, you will come across a cow pasture with a fire hydrant sitting in the middle of it. Yet again, local government officials, caught up in the zeal for all things having to do with real estate development, changed the zoning of a parcel of land, contrary to the city’s own master plan in force at the time, for a multiple phase project. That project ended up fizzling out only to be followed by a big California-based developer trying to shove its plans for high density housing (not the approved low density town homes originally intended for the land) down our throats using our own hastily changed zoning of that property.
Moving a bit to the south from there you come to South Willow Estates where parks were promised by the developer. The only problem was that they were to come after the homes were built and sold and the developer had its profit in hand. So sad, some of the parks couldn’t be built as promised.
Now we have another real estate development in the news. Some 2,400 homes are to go in southwest of Grantsville over the next 80 years, according to the Transcript Bulletin’s story on March 8. There will need to be an elevated water tower built to ensure sufficient water pressure for the fire hydrants “after a few phases are completed,” according to Grantsville’s mayor.
There’s mention of “green spaces” and “parks” to be built later (now, where have we heard that before?). And how are the kids supposed to walk to school Councilman Tom Tripp is reported as asking? The developer responded that there, “will be a walkable surface, likely gravel…” according to the article. Exactly how is the description, “likely gravel” going to be enforced in court?
Say what you want, but as I looked out past my fence at the lonely fire hydrant, I used to ask myself, “Who keeps electing these people?” Since March 8, I’ve been asking myself a different question: “How much is this development going to cost Grantsville residents when the developer is in the wind, the homeowners have no water pressure and their kids are walking to school in the mud?”
Why don’t we try something new and innovative such as requiring these necessities be completed prior to the sale of a single property? We might actually get what was promised for a change.
John Palo has been a resident of Grantsville since 2005 and retired from the U.S. Navy in 2016 after 27 years of service. He now works at the University of Utah.