Thank you for your April 3, 2018, editorial, entitled “Eye On the Ball.” It expressed well many of the thoughts I have had recently about development in Tooele County. Too many times over the last several years, our county officials have given approval for uses of lands that have not only been inappropriate for our community, but are downright detrimental. Some examples:
The Arrowhead development was approved for lots of 2.5 acres, even though the zoning designation for this area was for five-acre lots. This approval involved the developer giving the county a piece of land for a proposed fire station in exchange for allowing the smaller lots. When the five-acre minimum zoning was approved, ostensibly there were reasons for that zoning. But apparently the reasons were set aside if the county received something in return.
The former Weyland property on the northwest corner of Droubay and Bryan roads was approved for smaller lots than previously zoned. The one-acre lots on the east side of Droubay Road, across from the Weyland property, were used as “precedent” to show that smaller lots were consistent with the area. But those smaller lots were sold and built in the early 1970s, at a time when no one in the area really cared much or paid much attention to how the area was being developed. That these lots were developed in that way does not mean they should have been, or that such development is the most desirable way of using land in that area. Additionally, no one seems to have considered that the other two corners at that intersection are farmland and pasture.
Within the last couple of weeks, an application for a rezone from five-acre minimum to one-acre minimum was granted to an individual whose parcel of land is completely surrounded by five-acre minimum zoning. This was granted by the Tooele County Commission even though the planning commission had twice recommended that this spot zoning be denied. During the hearings, a member of the planning commission had pointed out that such spot zoning is illegal, and yet the county commission approved it.
This will open the door for Alpine Academy (which abuts the property) to build many more homes for students on their property, if they choose, and for anyone in the area to build more homes on their five-acre properties. If this spot zoning was granted to one person, how can anyone else be denied? This is completely unfair to people who bought and built on five acres, thinking that they would have some sense of rural peace and some breathing room. There are also concerns about potential tax increases due to the rezoning, increased traffic, increased use of water resources, and ground water contamination from too many septic systems.
I love this community, probably more than most who live here. Tooele County was settled by my ancestors, and both my parents were born and raised in Erda. I have had attachment to the home where I now live since babyhood, when my grandparents lived here and farmed the surrounding land. With sadness I have seen the farmland turned into housing developments, and one consolation that I have had has been that at least the homes around mine were on five-acre lots, and at least there was a small remnant of the rural life. I now feel that the irresponsible (and possibly illegal) actions of our county commission threaten all the things that make Erda, and Tooele County, a desirable place to live. It seems that they favor development at all costs and have no regard whatsoever for preserving what we now have.
Have you seen what has happened to Sandy and Draper over the last 40 years? If they keep up this trend, that is where we are headed. Within a few years, the entire valley will be covered with strip malls, fast food places, and four to six houses to the acre. I sincerely hope that the county commissioners will re-think their destructive actions and adopt a vision for the future that will preserve what is beautiful here. There are things that are more important than money in the county coffers, and once what we have is gone, it will be irretrievable.
Leanne Bryan Bedell lives in Erda, in the home built by her great-grandparents in 1910. Her great- and great-great grandparents were early settlers of Erda and Tooele.