SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A developer who was proposing a land swap in Bountiful has taken the deal off the table after residents in the area complained about losing their open space. Now they're concerned the developer may go to Congress to get the rights to build on the land.
The Bountiful City Council was going to make a final vote on this proposal tonight, but instead they'll be announcing the deal is off, and reassuring residents they'll be taking measures to protect this mountain they love and use for recreation.
Residents gathered at the Twin Hallow Park on Tuesday to celebrate.
“It’s a small victory, it’s a small battle won, but the war is not over,” said Andrea Edwards with the Twin Hallow United Group.
JLD Development was proposing to swap 165 acres of land in exchange for 154 acres of Forest Service land on the foothills in bountiful.
But residents are largely opposed to the idea, saying they want to preserve the mountain they use for hiking, biking and recreation.
“It was promised and given back in 1969 - 80 acres of this was given to the Forest Service from the City of Bountiful to be preserved as open space,” Edwards said.
The developer, Jaren Davis, withdrew his request, in large part, because of the backlash.
“And he also realized that there were some unforeseen costs, I think, that were going to be associated with development that it just made it not palatable for him to go forward,” said John Marc Knight with the Bountiful City Council.
But the community is concerned Davis will now go to Congress for the rights to build on the property.
“He has made promises to the council, he hasn’t kept those promises. He’s made promises to the public, we don’t know if he’s going to keep those promises, either. But if it isn’t this developer, there’s always the possibility that some other developer may come along and see a gold mine there that he wants to exploit,” said Randall Edwards with the Twin Hallow United Group.
Now the city council is proposing rezoning the mountain as protected space.
“I think that we’re going to see that there’s going to direction from city council to ask the planning commission to come up with a new zoning designation, either open space or watershed preservation, and then they’ll bring it back to the council with a recommendation,” Knight said.
Residents say they hope the city takes measures to ensure no other developers are able to build on the land.
“I hope that if they rezone this thing entirely, that a developer will look at it and decide it’s just not worth our time and effort,” Randall Edwards said.
There is no word yet on when the planning commission will come up with a way to designate the area as open space or watershed land. The city council says they will be taking a recommendation from the zoning department and voting on it in the near future.