Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

October 28, 2021
Judge halts annexation of Skywalk

A state judge has approved a preliminary injunction prohibiting Grantsville City from taking further steps to annex the Skywalk Development into their city.

Third District Court Judge Diana Gibson granted a request from the Erda Community Association and three Erda residents for a preliminary injunction enjoining the annexation of Skywalk into Grantsville City in a ruling issued on Oct. 25.

“Having considered the parties’ arguments and evidence presented, the Court grants petitioner’s motion for preliminary injunction and denies respondents’ renewed motion to dismiss. Given the multiple legal issues presented, the Court requires more time to finalize the analysis supporting this Ruling and Order,” wrote Gibson in her ruling.

In August 2020, Skywalk filed a notice of intent to annex into Grantsville City. They then filed a petition to annex into Grantsville City in January 2021, two months after the November 2020 election, in which Erda voters approved the incorporation of Erda City with a boundary that included the Skywalk property.

The Skywalk property consists of approximately 246 acres south of State Route 138 between Sheep Lane and the Erda Airport.

In their petition, Erda Community Association contended that the notice of intent to annex was legally deficient and the annexation petition was based on an unconstitutional amendment to the Utah annexation statute.

A group of Erda residents began the formal incorporation process for Erda City in Feb. 2020 with the drawing up of a boundary for the proposed city, gathering enough signatures to initiate a feasibility study, public meetings were held and the results of the feasibility study presented. The petition sponsors then collected signatures on a petition to put the incorporation of Erda City on an election ballot.

The Lieutenant Governor’s Office certified the petition for an election and placed the measure to incorporate Erda on the November 2020 general election ballot.

Jay Nielsen, partner in West Valley City-based Skywalk Utah, LLC, described Skywalk as a high-tech business park with a residential area, parks, and trails.

The Tooele County planning commission approved a planned unit development-conditional use permit for Skywalk in November 2018. 

At that time the plans for Skywalk included 684 high density residential units above commercial businesses, 186 medium-density townhouses, and up to 116 detached homes with a minimum lot size of 0.25-acres. 

In conjunction with the PUD-CUP, the Tooele County Commission approved a development agreement with Skywalk’s developers. 

Following the County Commission’s approval of the development agreement, Erda residents collected signatures on a referendum petition to put the Skywalk development agreement on a ballot for a public vote. After verifying enough valid signatures to certify the referendum, Tooele County Clerk Marilyn Gillette declared the referendum “not legally sufficient” after receiving an opinion from County Attorney Scott Broadhead that stated the Skywalk development agreement was an administrative act and as such it is not subject to a referendum, according to state code. Gillette had submitted the verified petition to Broadhead for a review as required by state code. Five Erda citizens then filed a lawsuit challenging Tooele County’s determination that the Skywalk development agreement was not subject to a referendum. 

Third District Court Judge Matthew Bates handed down a memorandum decision denying the referendum petition and declared that the adoption of the development agreement for Skywalk by the County Commission was not a legislative decision and therefore not subject to a referendum petition. 

However, Bates also wrote that the developer would need to apply for any needed changes in zoning or permitted uses in the normal fashion. 

To comply with Bates’ interpretation of the development agreement, Skywalk sought and received a rezone for the property from A-20 to planned community in Sept. 2020.


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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