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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Potential lawsuit surrounds gravel pit development

Jul 06, 2021 02:49PM ● By Cassie Goff

Cottonwood Heights City Councilmembers voiced how they would like the gravel pit landowners to be a better partner in planning their developments. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

On June 15, the Cottonwood Heights City Council continued their discussions of the proposed drafted Gravel Pit development. After the council mentioned that their vote may be pushed back until August at the earliest, landowners and developers voiced their frustrations. Soon, comments about potential lawsuits were thrown about. 

During their work session, the city council spent upward of 45 minutes going through a grab bag of concerns and topics related to the proposed gravel pit development. Traffic, road design, light pollution, public safety, sensitive lands, hillside reclamation, trail maintenance, building height (specifically related to the condominium building), and ensuring collaboration with Holladay were all discussed. 

Mayor Mike Peterson asked the four councilmembers for an appropriate date to vote upon the gravel pit development plan. A few councilmembers asked for more time to fully understand the solutions to their various concerns and to think about the potential of adding language regarding the condominium building to the drafted plan. Peterson and District 4 Councilmember Christine Mikell thought it important to have the entire council present for the vote, which wouldn’t happen until August. 

After a few mentions of pushing the vote out past the summer months, the landowners began to speak up. They voiced frustrations over this process already taking three years and hoped to have an answer sooner than August. 

“Folks, you have brought up things we have given detailed presentations on. You have had these things for so very long,” said Tom Henriod from Rockwork Companies. 

The owner of the gravel pit, Alan Thorpe, addressed the council. “I’ve been wondering for a while why we don’t have a decision already, when what we are doing is taking an eye sore, something that creates dust, and changing it into what we are posing.”

“If we are not voting in a positive way on this, our only option is to go back to what we have always done for 70 years—crush sand and gravel and make concrete. That’s the only thing left for us. That…you know, and then sue all of you, honestly.” 

“Can you tell me honestly that would ever go back to gravel?” Peterson asked. 

“Why wouldn’t it? I already have Harper wondering if they can bring all their stuff up. The concrete guy wants to put a plant there,” Thorpe said. “I can’t see any more clear option than we make sand and gravel and have a big battle with you guys, or we produce something far better looking than what you have and make a great tax base.” 

“Regarding the lawsuit, you have every right,” Peterson said. 

“You all have had your machines sitting there idle for I don’t know how long and we haven’t gone after you litigiously to move that material or those machines,” Mikell said. 

Mikell also stressed the importance of maintaining a working partnership. “I think we are working collaboratively with you. This is the first time in a year and a half we have been able to talk about your project. I think it’s in your interest for us to discuss things because we have gotten more comfortable with your project through even this discussion than we ever had. I think having this extra time is only helping you.” 

“I don’t want to stand here and act like I’m uncooperative like the lady says,” said Thorpe. “We’re out of time. Three years working directly with you guys is long enough. How many votes do I need? Are three of you going to be around on July 6?”

Councilmember Tali Bruce echoed Mikell’s comment. “I was really excited for this development and to have involvement in the process for this huge asset for the community. That was before it was riddled with fault lines. And tonight speaking with Mike Johnson is the first time I felt remotely comfortable that we are going to adequately address that land mine of fault lines.” 

Henriod spoke up once more. “We would like you all present (for the vote). We think there’s value in having you all together and getting everyone’s opinions. We have reached out to any of you individually. We would encourage you to reach out to us. You’re certainly hearing some frustration. We don’t want this to go on much longer.”