A portion of the Clark Historic Farm property was rezoned by the Grantsville City Council Wednesday night, paving the way for future cemetery development.
The council approved rezoning approximately five acres of land to the north and east of the Clark Farm buildings from agricultural to R-1-21 residential. A compromise with the Friends of the Clark Farm altered the proposed plan from rezoning 10.3 acres in the same manner.
The council also approved a subdivision of 3.2 acres, including the farm’s barn and outbuildings, as the final step to complete a purchase agreement with the Friends of the Clark Farm for a 2.2-acre parcel.
The parcel will be purchased for $92,000 by the nonprofit with private donations and a 2-1 matching grant from the Tooele County Tourism Board.
A public hearing at the beginning of the meeting saw more than a half dozen Clark Farm supporters ask the council to delay a vote on the rezoning. The city has submitted a conditional use permit for the rezoned acreage to be used as a cemetery before the vote, which will be reviewed by the planning and zoning commission at its Dec. 10 meeting.
Most of the argument against rezoning the property centered around the timeliness of the effort with about a decade of burial plots set to become available contiguous to the existing cemetery.
Friends of the Clark Farm’s Susan Johnsen asked the council to consider tabling the rezone while it reviewed other locations.
“I would propose it’s not the best use of city time and resources,” Johnsen said. “Please remember that those resources also belong to us, the citizens of the community.”
Councilwoman-elect Jewel Allen also questioned the timing of the push to rezone the property, with less than a month before the new term for city council begins. Allen asked if the city was worried the new council wouldn’t want to work with them to find a solution.
“I’m eager to help you find a solution,” she said.
Friends of the Clark Farm founder Laurie Hurst also objected to the rezone at this time, which would put the potential go-ahead on the cemetery in the hands of the planning and zoning commission.
“Basically you’re leaving it up to non-elected officials who were appointed by the city that’s applying for it,” Hurst said.
Hurst also called for a historic preservation committee and a more comprehensive plan for the management of the city’s cultural and historic resources.
“Why now?” she said. “Is it because there’s a critical need for a cemetery? No, not in December 2015.”
Councilman Tom Tripp disagreed with the sentiment the city is set for the near future on cemetery plots. Tripp said Grantsville should have 20 to 30 years of plots available so residents can purchase family lots and plan for the future.
“I think there is some urgency and some need right now to go with additional cemetery ground,” he said.
Tripp said the city’s previous effort to put a cemetery behind the farmstead cleaned up the property and gave rise to the Friends of the Clark Farm and its various annual events.
“Until that grass was there, there were no activities at the Clark Farm, there were no Friends of the Historic Clark Farm,” he said. “Until the cemetery was put on that farm, nothing could happen.”
Councilman Neil Critchlow disagreed with the need for immediate action on the cemetery and voiced support for developing city land around the current cemetery instead.
“We don’t have to do it right now,” he said. “I have no idea why we have this rush to judgment right at this point.”
A previous proposal from the Friends of the Clark Farm, which had been presented to the council to rezone approximately five acres east of an access road from Clark Street, was brought up by Councilman Scott Stice.
“I don’t think we need to do the entire 10 acres,” he said. “I think we can do half of the 10 acres and use half as a cemetery, which is what the compromise was with the Clark Farm people.”
Councilman Mike Colson also voiced his support for Stice’s proposal to give the Friends of the Clark Farm a chance to be successful after it accepts the liability of the farm and its aged, historic buildings.
“The last thing I want to do is chop the legs out from under the Clark Farm people by putting all of that 10 acres into a cemetery,” Colson said. “I agree we need some future cemetery, but I think the five acres that we agreed upon is more than adequate.”
A motion by Tripp to rezone the 10.3 acres was defeated by a 1-4 vote, with Tripp the only vote in favor of the proposal. Stice then made a motion to rezone the approximately five acres east of the access road, which passed by a 4-1 vote, with Critchlow the sole opposition.
The Grantsville City Planning and Zoning Commission will meet on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. to review the city’s conditional use permit for a cemetery on the rezoned property.