Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

September 21, 2020
One greenlight for Skywalk

County commission approves rezone for planned community in Erda 

After four readings during  public meetings, the Tooele County Commission approved the ordinance to rezone approximately 246 acres south of State Route 138 between Sheep Lane and the Erda Airport from agriculture with a 20-acre minimum lot size to the planned community zone.  

The County Commission voted 2-1 to approve the rezone during their meeting on Tuesday night at the County Building.

The rezone will allow the Skywalk planned community to move forward.

County Commission Chairman Tom Tripp cast the dissenting vote.

During the discussion at the meeting, Tripp expressed concern that the developers were considering annexing their property into Grantsville City.

“I have no heartburn with what they want to do, but I don’t want to change the zoning and pass it on to Grantsville,” Tripp said. “If they are going to Grantsville I want to hold off.”

Brent Bateman, an attorney representing Skywalk, said Skywalk’s application to annex Grantsville was rejected by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. 

“The application was rejected,” he said. “The Lieutenant Governor’s Office is not inclined to be flexible at this time. I  don’t think it’s a strong possibility, although it is undergoing.” 

Commissioner Kendall Thomas offered language to amend the ordinance that satisfied his concern with Palmer Road being the south access point for the project.

His added verbiage stated: “The developer shall establish an alternate collector road without driveway approaches. Palmer Road to be maintained as a secondary ingress and egress neighborhood street.”

With the planned community zone approved, the project will move forward with additional approval steps as outlined in the county’s land use ordinance.

The planned community zone was added to the county’s land use ordinance in June 2018. No planned community zoned project has been completed in the county.

The approval process for a planned community is a multi-step process. 

With the zone change approved, the next step is the approval of a community structure plan. The community structure plan includes plans for major roadways, infrastructure, open space networks, and the general location of planned community elements of neighborhoods, villages, town centers, open space and business centers. 

The ordinance spells out what is allowed in each of these elements, including maximum residential density.

The community structure plan would be reviewed by county planning staff and approved by both the planning commission and county commission.

Subsequent project plans and subdivision plats will be approved by the planning commission.

The planning staff will approve individual site plans based on the development requirements approved by the planning commission and county commission, according to the ordinance.

The county has a development agreement approved by the County Commission for Skywalk. That agreement may need to be amended based on subsequent approvals under the planned community zone, according to the staff report on the rezone request.

Jay Nielsen, a partner Skywalk Utah, LLC described Skywalk in a previous meeting as a walkable and bikeable community.

“The community is designed off of the county general plan and designed to limit problems like traffic issues,” he said.

The Skywalk community will be the first community in Tooele County built to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — LEED — standards, according to Nielsen.

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

South of the commercial and office buildings would 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 would be for up to 186 medium-density townhouses.

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

Some Erda residents voiced opposition to Skywalk during public hearings.

They mentioned the loss of agricultural land; questioned the building of a four-story, city-like community in rural Erda; the potential increase in traffic on local roads, and challenged the wisdom of putting a high-density community between an airport and a chicken farm.

After a planned unit development was approved by the County for Skywalk, a group of citizens filed for a referendum to overturn the PUD.

The County ruled that the PUD was an administrative decision and therefore not subject to a referendum. The referendum sponsors filed a request with the District Court to overturn the County’s decision. The judge ruled in favor of the County, but also said the language in the development agreement required Skywalk’s developers to request a zone change in the usual manner.


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