Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

July 23, 2020
Comments on rezone request for Skywalk heard

Plans will put a 246-acre planned community on ‘bare farmland’ west of airport 

The Tooele County Commission held a first reading on an ordinance that will rezone 126-acres of agricultural land in east Erda to the planned community zone to accommodate the Skywalk Planned Unit Development.

Approved in November 2018, the Skywalk PUD starts out at state Route 138 as it’s northern border. It stretches to the Golden Acres subdivision on the south end. On the east side it is bounded by Sheep Lane. On the west it comes near to the Tooele Valley Airport.

The plans for Skywalk include a planned community with a row of four-story buildings that run parallel with the future Midvalley Highway. The first floor of the buildings will be occupied by commercial and service businesses with office space on the top three floors. Landmark buildings, such as a library, town hall, church, theater, and museum could be included in this area, according to Jay Nielsen, partner in West Valley City-based Skywalk Utah, LLC.

South of the commercial and office buildings will be another row of four-story buildings with commercial businesses on the ground floor with up to 684 high-density residential units on the top floors.

The next row of four-story buildings will be for up to 186 medium-density townhouses.

A third residential area would be north of a 300-foot wide green space from Golden Acres subdivision. This space would be for up to 116 detached homes with a minimum lot size of 0.25-acres.

The Skywalk PUD was subject to a litigation effort as Tooele County residents tried to use the referendum process to put the PUD on a ballot for voters to decide.

Enough signatures were collected to put the Skywalk PUD on a ballot for a public vote, but the referendum was declared “not legally sufficient” after County Attorney Scott Broadhead reviewed the petition as required by state law. 

Broadhead stated the Skywalk development agreement was an administrative act and as such was not subject to a referendum.

A 3rd District Court judge ruled that the PUD designation was a valid administrative decision and not subject to a referendum. But the judge’s ruling also stated that the applicant needed to submit a rezone request to bring the zoning in compliance with the approved PUD, due to language that was written into the approved development agreement for the PUD.

As a result, Skywalk’s representatives filed to change the property’s zoning from A-20 to P-C.

The Tooele County Planning Commission held a public hearing during their June 17 meeting and voted to recommend that the County Commission approve the rezone request with a 5-0 vote.

The rezone request now comes before the County Commission for action.

With a public hearing already held during the planning commission meeting, neither state nor county code requires a second public hearing before the County Commission votes on the rezone request.

However, two Erda residents took advantage of the County Commission’s public comment periods on Tuesday night to explain their concerns with the Skywalk PUD.

Kathleen Mallis spoke by electronic means during the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting.

“I’m asking the commission to consider disapproving this proposal at this time,” she said. “This proposal is to develop 246 acres of bare farmland into a development with approximately 986 housing units, commercial space and areas catering to businesses.”

Mallis said that this area does not have water or sewer capabilities.

“So these services will need to be provided from somewhere at a significant cost,” she said. “This is dry empty farmland where cattle grazed.”

She also expressed concerns of the developments impact on traffic in the area.

Mallis described the roads as narrow with people riding horses and children playing in them.

“These roads are not capable of handling the traffic from this development,” she said.

Along with concerns for “overburdened roads” Mallis also said the county should ask the developer to disclose how much impact the development will have on the capability of the sewer system and the impact on water capacity in Erda.

“I ask that you consider the requests, desires and wishes of Erda residents,” Mallis said.

Diane Haney made a presentation in person during the public comment period at the end of the County Commission meeting. 

“I am directly affected by this development,” Haney said. 

She held up a large poster board with a map of the proposed development and the surrounding areas.

Haney lives in the subdivision immediately south of Skywalk. She pointed to a road, Palmer Road, that leads south out of Skywalk through her development to Erda Way.

“Palmer Road is just a little road, about the width of Vine street on one side,” she said. “Palmer Road becomes the south entranced to this (gesturing to the Skywalk development on her map.)”

She pointed out that Palmer Road has no curb, gutter, and sidewalk or street lights.

“This doesn’t work,” she said. 

Along with concerns about traffic, Haney also mentioned water resources as a concern.

The County Commission held the rezone for a second reading to be held at their next meeting. At that time they may vote on the rezone request.

Broadhead said that the rezone,if approved, would be a legislative action and subject to referendum.

 

Tim Gillie

Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim has been writing for the Transcript Bulletin since October 2017. In February 2019 he was named as editor. In addition to being editor, Tim continues to write about Tooele County government, education, business, real estate, housing, politics and the state Legislature.A native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University, Tim became a journalist after a 20 year career with the Boy Scouts of America.

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