This piece was written in response to an article published in the Transcript Bulletin on Nov. 27, 2018, under the headline, “Erda developer worried public misunderstands his project plans.”
There is a lot of resentment and feeling of being deceived by Tooele County officials and their refusal to listen to common sense. What is it that blinds them from the adverse effects of these hurry up decisions? Are they trying to justify big pay raises (already happened on 12-4-18)? This behavior has inspired an effort to get six referendums filed to allow citizens to vote on rezoning requests.
It is safe to say 90 percent of people who have moved to Tooele have done it to get out of the city atmosphere. Many families who have signed the referendum told us they met with the commissioners before moving to Tooele County and were told Erda would not be changed from five-acre minimum lots. They were told the master plan was promising a rural atmosphere in Tooele County. That master plan has somehow been changed in poorly advertised and poorly attended commission meetings rather than advertised as public hearings. The public’s beef is with the commissioners more than developers.
The public thought the government was by the people, not one or three or four people behind closed doors. The public thought their input was accepted years ago when the county paid approximately $300,000 to develop a master plan that represented the people’s vision of Tooele Valley, which was to preserve a place for rural loving people. After all, can’t rural people have the right to their lifestyle as well?
The public is OK with someone making a living even if they only make a $1 million profit instead of $5 million. These developers knew what the zoning was when the property was bought, and that it conformed to the master plan and their profit no doubt figured on that information.
The public sees an out of hand situation by approving all these new subdivisions before there are roads, water and sewer to support it. The public hears a forked tongue from the state water people (conflicting statements). Eleven years ago, the state said Tooele Valley was in trouble with water. They said water rights were over issued, especially on the east side of the valley. The state was so concerned about Tooele Valley water that they put a 19-month moratorium on any water transactions in the valley.
As a result, the valley was divided into zones and water could not be transferred between the zones and had to be issued in the zone where the right was located. The public sees a violation of this rule with these projects. Water, if not a problem now, will be if things don’t change, including precipitation and return of the Great Salt Lake, which used to give Tooele Valley significant lake effect snowfall. We used to measure snowfall in feet and now it is in inches.
The public sees a severe and hazardous traffic problem with no short range solution and the commissioners are adding 6,000-plus more vehicles to the congestion.
The public hears commissioners say we need more rooftops so they can force the people to pay for a valley-wide sewer system, to support the race track deal and adjacent development plans. No wonder there is resentment.
We encourage the residents of Tooele County to look for the good people gathering signatures, to stop the out of control high density rezoning so we can have a voice about our lifestyle, safety and precious, limited water and other resources.
Don’t think you’re done if you sign one. All six referendums need your signature. This is an effort to get these high-density developments on a ballot. Please vote when this happens. With your support we can be successful! The Utah Supreme Court just upheld a very similar referendum that made it to the ballot that the people were able to vote on and denied the high-density rezone that the developer was requesting.
Don’t think it’s hopeless or a lost cause and do nothing. Please get involved and at least sign ALL six referendums.
Terry Mathews was born and raised in Pine Canyon and has lived in Erda for 48 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering and served as Chief of Facilities Engineering at Tooele Army Depot.