For several years now, I have kept a scrapbook containing Transcript articles regarding rezoning of rural Tooele County for development. There is one section in my book that I call “The Demise of Erda.” I knew it was a sad day for Erda when I had to be careful how I cut up the paper last week, because there were articles for that section on both the first and second pages.
The article on the first page, “Tooele County Commission splits on temple development” described how the commission passed a rezone of the property surrounding the temple site which allows for lots as small as 4,000-square-feet. Prior to this change, this property was zoned for lots of no less than one acre. This approval by the county commission is very disappointing to me. While hardly anyone I have talked to is opposed to having a temple on that site, the high density development surrounding it is an entirely different story. This development will be a nightmare for Erda. Approval of this development will open the floodgates for other developers, who will (justifiably) say that it is not equitable to approve a high density development for SLR, a “tax paying real estate investment affiliate of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”, and not approve their own, similar projects. When that happens, and developers are allowed to build high density projects wherever they please despite how the property is zoned, we can just say goodbye to Erda as we know it. I am dumbfounded that the county commissioners can simply ignore the part of the county plan that defines rural residential districts and specifically states that RR1, 5, and 10 districts are to be protected from encroachment by commercial and industrial uses. Bringing in suburban developments, which will surely also require commercial services, is hardly protecting those areas. I am also very disturbed that an “affiliate” of the Church would use that association to maximize their profits at the expense of our community. The representatives of SLR are not unaware of the strong sentiment among Erda residents that we want to keep our community less developed and more rural. Yet they choose to use their affiliation with the Church to sway people into agreeing with this inappropriate development. Many people have the misconception that the development and the temple are inseparable, though they are not, and SLR uses that misconception to strong-arm their way into getting what they want. This unethical behavior is despicable for an organization that supposedly represents the Church.
The article on the second page of the paper, “Two plans for the same Erda property,” describes Joe White’s latest proposals for property on Droubay Road between Bryan and Bates Canyon Roads. Either of these plans calls for lots much smaller than the present five acre minimum zoning. This is the exact same property that Mr. White proposed to have rezoned to develop in 2018. A referendum was undertaken regarding that rezone. Ample signatures were gathered to get this on the 2020 ballot, but Mr. White withdrew his proposal at an “emergency” county commission meeting, between Christmas and New Years and during the day instead of the usual meeting time. This effectively negated the referendum and silenced the voices of all those who signed it. So now, rather than facing a vote on his proposal in November, he has put forth reworked versions of the very same proposal. This should not even be legal. I certainly hope the present county commissioners will take this history into account when considering his proposal, and give consideration to what the community members want.
I sincerely hope that upcoming editions of the Transcript will give me nothing to add to my book.
Leanne Bryan Bedell