A split Grantsville City Council approved a concept plan and planned unit development for a housing project that would create 74 multi-housing development units and five single-family lots at 619 West Clark Street.
The city council and developer Reid Dickson’s attorney, Bruce Baird, tangled over issues with the proposed development, dubbed Sun Sage Meadows, which originated in 2009. The development was inactive for nearly 8 years following the Great Recession.
Baird represented Tooele Associates in its 2002 lawsuit against Tooele City, which netted the developers $20.7 million.
Baird began his presentation to the council by describing the history of the development, beginning with the city council’s approval of the general plan for a similar development, which included a swimming pool at a Sept. 2, 2009 meeting brought forward by developer Reeve and Associates.
Meeting minutes from a Dec. 2, 2009 city council meeting showed a public hearing on a rezone for the 9.4-acre development from medium-density residential to high-density residential received one public comment against it.
The rezone was brought before the city council at a Dec. 16, 2009 meeting, where it was approved unanimously on a motion by current Grantsville City Mayor Brent Marshall, then a city councilman, and seconded by City Councilman Tom Tripp.
During a Dec. 16, 2009 meeting, Marshall asked about the number of phases on the project, stated he would like to see fencing on the perimeter of the project on Clark Street and state Route 138, and improvements on the frontage with Main Street.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Tripp said there was substantial discussion on the potential rezone in 2009, including a meeting at his home, as residents were angry about the rezone. Baird countered the city’s meeting minutes don’t reflect any public comments beside the one in opposition at the Dec. 2, 2009 meeting and there were no stipulations in the motion to rezone.
State law on record retention only requires audio recordings of a public meeting be kept for three years after approval of the meeting minutes.
The latest version of the concept plan submitted to the council for Wednesday’s meeting included the wider roadways requested by the city, which have a 13-foot travel lane in both directions. The concept plan also included a driveway of at least 20 feet to accommodate larger vehicles.
City Councilman Neil Critchlow expressed concerns about the driveway length for larger trucks and the depth of the setback from the roadway to the townhomes. Grantsville City code requires a 25-foot front yard setback and a 20-foot rear yard setback in the high density residential zone.
None of the townhomes in the project have a 25-foot front setback, based on the concept plan submitted to the city council.
Baird said the project being a PUD allowed the city to reduce its requirements on setbacks and other code requirements. If the developer was required to meet the setback requirements, they would have to remove as many as 20 units, he said.
“How are we going to help you get your subdivision, your development, done?” Critchlow said. “We want you to comply with these things. What are we going to do to help you get through this?”
“You’re going to reduce those standards as you have the authority to do,” Baird said. “And if you don’t, then we’ll have litigation.”
“You’re threatening to sue us over not following our rules?” Critchlow said.
“Over 20 units? Yes, sir,” Baird said.
City Councilwoman Jewel Allen also proposed removing a row of townhome units to increase the space in the development, a proposition she had previously made at the Sept. 5 city council meeting. Baird said that wouldn’t happen.
“If the choice is to take out a row of lots to get your approval or to litigate, then we’ll litigate and you will lose,” Baird said.
Grantsville City Attorney Brett Coombs said he disagreed and the city could win a potential lawsuit over required changes to the concept plan.
Following a discussion about the lawfulness of a vehicle obstructing a sidewalk, Tripp said the documentation Baird gathered to give history on the development was preparation for litigation.
“It isn’t, sir,” Baird said. “It was an attempt to answer your historical questions.”
“Well, we have different interpretations on that,” Tripp said. “… My interpretation is that it’s a shot over the bow that you’re here and you’re serious. You confirmed that to us right here, right now.”
Baird said, “We are serious but it wasn’t a shot over the bow. It was an attempt to answer your questions and show you how we got here.”
The project’s developer, Reid Dickson, said he believed the project met the city’s requirements for a planned unit development, citing examples such as a small park and green space.
“It seems like we’re ignoring the concept of what a PUD is,” Dickson said.
Marshall asked if the development would have a homeowners’ association. Baird said there would be an HOA for the project and to maintain the park space.
Prior to voting, City Councilwoman Krista Sparks expressed regret the property had been rezoned 9 years ago.
“It’s obvious none of us are loving the idea of this concept and it’s unfortunate that this area was rezoned when it was rezoned,” Sparks said. “That was before my time here. I would have never voted in favor of rezoning this area.”
Tripp told Dickson and Baird that he didn’t believe residents thought promises had been kept after a weed violation on the property.
City Councilman Scott Stice made a motion to approve the concept plan for the Sun Sage Meadows development, but said the interaction with the developers was probably the worst he’d experienced in nearly six years on the city council.
“I didn’t make this motion to not get sued,” Stice said. “That’s not why I did it. I did it because this seems to have been messed up from the very beginning. We never should have changed the zone.”
Stice’s motion was seconded by Tripp and passed by a 3-2 margin, with Allen and Critchlow against.
A subsequent vote to approve the planned unit development also passed 3-2, with the same votes, on a motion from Stice, seconded by Sparks.
“I think that this whole process has been very disappointing to see,” Allen said. “And disturbing, I think, that even though it will most likely pass, it comes at a price.”