Despite opposition from neighbors, the Tooele County Commission gave the go ahead to a rezone that will bring a temple and higher density housing to Erda.
The Tooele County Commission approved the rezone of 167 acres in Erda from RR-1 to a planned community zone during their meeting Tuesday night at the County Building.
The rezone paves the way for the Tooele Valley Temple Subdivision, including a temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a new stake center for the Church, open space including parks, trails, and a pioneer cemetery, and 446 residential units on the Church’s former farm property northwest of state Route 36 and Erda Way.
The Church owns the property and has historically used it for farming.
The rezone request was made by Suburban Land Reserve, a tax-paying real estate investment affiliate of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The vote to approve the rezone was 2-1. Commissioners Tom Tripp and Shawn Milne voted to approve the request. Commissioner Kendall Thomas was the negative vote.
Despite opposition from some Erda residents, Commission Chairman Tripp said that the subdivision had broad valley and county wide support.
“Let me give you my take on this,” he said. “This is a unique opportunity. While we’ve heard all these near neighbors that say they are the most affected, I think the effect of this temple goes way beyond Erda and affects the lives of many people throughout the valley. While I understand that they are affected, you can see the Church, or SLR, has gone a long way to put in a buffer. If you have a 1-acre lot you don’t have a third of an acre lot or something smaller against your house, but open space there.”
Thomas wanted to table the decision for two weeks to give more time for SLR and Erda residents to reach a compromise on the density of the housing.
The approval of the rezone, following county code, came with a development agreement that for this development set the overall residential density at 446 units in the development, which is an average of 2.66 units per acre.
The draft plan of the community structure showed 32 acres of open space, walking trails, parks, a pioneer cemetery, a farmer’s market area, and the temple along with the 446 homes. The lot sizes for the homes varied from half-acre to 4,000-square-feet.
“I’m concerned about the high density down there,” said Thomas. “I’m concerned that if we pass this tonight they (the Erda residents) won’t have the opportunity to negotiate with the church or SLR. … I think there’s some compromise here. Table it and bring it back in two weeks.”
Commissioner Milne said there was “no silver bullet” as far as a compromise that would satisfy both the residents and SLR.
“They (SLR) have tried to preserve some open space and pastoral scene,” said Milne.
While a maximum density is set in the development agreement, Milne noted that with the planned community zone there will be more public input prior to the community structure approval.
Milne held out hope that during that process SLR could be swayed to come back and lower the density.
Representatives of SLR have said the temple and the proposed housing development have been presented as a single proposal because the Church wants residential development around the temple for security purposes and to help cover the cost of infrastructure, as well as providing a high quality community for a diverse population.
There was no public hearing on the rezone during the meeting on Tuesday night. A public hearing was held by the County Planning Commission in May.
The majority of the speakers at that meeting favored the temple and the housing development.
However, around 20 Erda residents spoke against the rezone during the public comment period of the County Commission meeting.
They expressed concern with the density of the housing development and requested that a vote on the rezone wait until Erda residents vote on incorporation.
Janice Clegg, a long time Tooele County resident expressed her concerns over the effect of changing the density of housing in Erda.
“When you put 10 to 12 homes per acre it changes our community drastically,” she said.
Shirlene Johnson, an Erda resident, shared her concerns too.
“That many homes on that much property is going to take the farming feel away,” she said. “I’m for the temple coming here, but I’m also for 1-acre lots.”