Mayor McAdams vetoes Olympia Hills development

SALT LAKE CITY — Mayor Ben McAdans has vetoed a massive housing development near Herriman after it sparked widespread protest.

In a hastily called news conference on Friday morning, the Salt Lake County mayor announced he would not allow the Olympia Hills project to move forward. Mayor McAdams said his decision was based on public feedback at a town hall meeting on Thursday night and protest by mayors from the south end of the Salt Lake Valley.

"We've got to hit reset. We've got to start this conversation from a blank slate," the mayor said Friday.

Herriman Mayor David Watts said he supported the decision.

The Olympia Hills development would allow for 9,000 housing units to be built on roughly 900 acres of land. When the Salt Lake County Council originally approved the project, it sparked widespread protest by residents in the area. They argued that in addition to a spike in population, the transportation infrastructure and school districts could not absorb it.

The council has 15 days to decide if they will override the veto. However, some members have indicated they are not likely to do it.

"The irony is every talking point from the Mayor's veto proposal is what I have been advocating for several weeks when this proposal first came forward," said Councilman Steve DeBry in a statement. "The quantity of emails, phone calls, and citizens attending the town hall was impressive; and this action would not have happened without their voices."

The veto does not halt the development project, but is likely to reset any negotiations of how big it would be. The Salt Lake County Council will likely have to renegotiate terms of the project with the developer.

"The public, rightly so, has demanded answers before we proceed with the zone change and I think that's been OK for us to look at," said Council Chairwoman Aimee Winder-Newton.

Residents who have opposed the Olympia Hills development were relieved to hear of the mayor's veto on Friday. However, they were not abandoning a citizen referendum because they weren't sure what would happen next.

"We don't want to stop the growth. We're part of that growth," said Scott Watson, a supporter of the referendum. "This is a brand new neighborhood. We just want to make sure it's done smart and this is not smart planning."