Salt Lake County Councilmembers,
Riverton City and its residents would be considerably impacted by the development known as Olympia Hills in its current form. Accordingly, we respectfully request you vote no on the proposal before you on February 25.
Our opposition can be summarized in these points:
- Community General Plan: The County’s Southwest Community General Plan was amended upward in 2008, allowing for 3-5 units to the acre. Cities and service providers in the southwest have relied on these numbers to appropriately plan for our infrastructure needs, keenly aware of the impact such new development on the farthest edges of the county would have as they travel through our communities. This application is asking for you to approve densities almost 40% greater than even the upper limit of the general plan.
- Density Studies: Studies conducted by neighboring municipalities have shown the level of density proposed cannot be supported by existing infrastructure. Additionally, the Southwest Vision study is currently underway that the county has spent $100,000 in taxpayer money to fund. At a time when southwest communities are trying to proactively plan for their future, this development would have a devastating impact on those plans and fundamentally change the nature of this part of the county.
- Infrastructure Impact: Perhaps there is no clearer evidence that the county doesn’t ultimately bear the burden of new development than in the fact that the county doesn’t assess impact fees. This impact to existing municipal infrastructure, beyond what is interior to the project area, has been estimated to cost affected cities at least $40 million. None of the contemplated agreements, nor any of the developer’s promises commit to any dollar amount to pay for their "proportionate share" of impact. To the contrary, this development relies almost entirely on future state transportation projects to attempt to address the impact – projects that are not even currently funded nor in some cases planned to even be completed in the next 30 years.
- Current Roadway & Transit Infrastructure Deficiencies: Given current traffic counts and levels of congestion, UDOT has suggested we are a good 10 years behind where we should be in the conversion of Bangerter Highway to an expressway, along with finishing Mountain View Corridor. Projections are that these projects will need an additional $1.6 billion to finish, which will be critical to mitigating the existing congestion, let alone the additional traffic and congestion this project would add. Additionally, although the development claims transit is a major part of their plan, no transit exists, there are no plans and no funding for any additional transit, and UTA has no plans to extend even core bus routes in the area.
- Inadequate Water Supplies: West bench landowners told the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District (JVWCD) that they would not need them to provide water, so accordingly JVWCD never planned to provide it. Recent conversations with JVWCD show that although they could ultimately provide water for this development -that is approximately 10% of the size of Riverton’s footprint- their water use would be almost equivalent to Riverton’s. This sets a dangerous precedent for buildout along the rest of the valley and jeopardizes the ability for JVWCD to deliver water supplies going forward.
- Housing Stock: Although the size of any "housing gap" may be debatable, the southwest communities already have over 40,000 entitled units, many of which have been approved for years. Adding an additional 6,300 units for Olympia Hills, and giving them some 35 years to develop it, doesn't address or alleviate the problems associated with housing availability or affordability.
We appreciate the work the County Council does on behalf of citizens. We know these decisions are not made without much consideration. In our view, the only way to avoid negative impacts on neighboring communities of any additional development along the west bench, is to keep density levels in line with the general plan, work with southwest communities in the visioning effort currently underway and advocating with them for critical infrastructure improvements. The southwest part of the county has accounted for over 70% of the county population increase since 2000, represents almost ¼ of the total population and has more than half of the undeveloped property that remains in the county. We welcome responsible growth accompanied by infrastructure that won't diminish our quality of life. This project in its current form would be neither responsible nor accompanied by adequate infrastructure. Accordingly, we call upon members of the Salt Lake County Council to deny approval of the amendment to the general plan and rezone in their February 25 meeting.
Mayor Trent Staggs
Councilman Sheldon Stewart – District 1
Councilman Troy McDougal – District 2
Councilwoman Tawnee McCay – District 3
Councilwoman Tish Buroker – District 4
Councilman Claude Wells – District 5