The Benches at South Rim is a beautiful and rapidly growing neighborhood located a couple of miles west of Stockton. The neighborhood was developed and the lots marketed as a place away from the crowds with breathtaking natural beauty, peaceful serenity and magnificent views. Consistent with that vision, at the inception of the neighborhood, the area was zoned rural residential, which prohibits unbecoming commercial activity including amongst other things, the mining of gravel.
That awesome vision was seriously threatened over a year ago when a large piece of property literally across the street from the neighborhood was sold to a company for the purpose of expanding a small, essentially dormant 10-acre gravel pit to 176 acres, complete with large rock crushing equipment and the whole nine yards.
This company wanted to turn our breathtaking natural beauty, peaceful serenity and magnificent views into an ugly, dusty and noisy monstrosity. And in a stunning act of ineptitude, and totally outside of legally-defined processes, the county provided a conditional use permit to this company. Fortunately, the law prevailed and the conditional use permit was found to be invalid.
Fast forward to July, 2017: After a year-long saga that is far too complicated to describe in this letter, the Tooele County Commissioners agreed that they would enforce the original agreement that Tooele County made with the South Rim developer, along with the rural zoning. In that agreement, the county gave the 10-acre gravel pit (owned by the county at the time) to the developer of South Rim at no cost, allowing material from the pit to be used to make roads for the South Rim neighborhood with the stipulation that upon completion of South Rim the pit would be closed and reclaimed.
Hooray! We thanked the county commissioners for doing their job, even if it was done in a belated fashion.
But wait! Here we go again! The company is back with bulldozers building roads, which certainly appear to be intended to proceed with the gravel operation. When confronted about the situation, the commissioners have responded that the owner can push dirt around on his property all he wants to until the developer says South Rim is finished.
Huh? What? Seriously? The roads in South Rim were completed several years ago! Were the commissioners just playing games when they said they were going to enforce the agreement? Are they now saying the agreement means nothing? Residents of South Rim have formally filed complaints about this, but based on the consistent stonewalling we experienced from the county over the last year, I do not expect a response anytime soon, if ever.
So I ask, is anyone minding the store in Tooele County, or is this just the Wild West where anything goes?