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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Unanticipated fault line angle alters Gravel Pit plans

Mar 07, 2023 03:27PM ● By Cassie Goff

Fault lines along the northern side of the Gravel Pit area were discovered at a different angle than originally thought. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)

Development plans for the northern side of the Gravel Pit area were approved with the passing of the Planned Development District 2 (Wasatch Rock Development) Zoning Text Amendment on Aug. 3, 2021 under the previous Cottonwood Heights City Council. Since then, various geotechnical studies have been underway in preparation for development. One such study rendered unanticipated results that have since altered development plans. 

The northern side of the Gravel Pit Development area (6695 S. Wasatch Blvd.) was originally approved for 325 units, condos, four retail building, two mixed-use commercial buildings, a hotel with 140 rooms and open space with public trails, plazas and courtyards. As part of those original development plans, geotechnical studies were required before construction could occur. Site scoping for hazards including fault lines, slope stability, liquefaction, debris, flow, rockfall, hillside remediation has been ongoing. 

After trenching during one such study, it was discovered that one of the fault lines possesses a different angle than originally anticipated. Because of the city’s required setbacks from fault lines, the development plans for this 20-acre parcel were in need of alternation.

“The northwest corners of the building will have a massive cut,” said Cottonwood Heights Community and Economic Development Director Mike Johnson. 

Now, there is a proposed building reduction to avoid the fault line with appropriate setbacks. The new plans include a modified building footprint with a reduction in size. The original 325 apartment units will go down to 300 apartment units with a relocated pool amenity.

“Overall, this is a lower density,” said Councilmember Doug Petersen. 

As part of the Planned Development District Ordinance (PDD), any requested changes to development changes that impact less than 10% of the overall development (for housing unit counts, building heights, density, and building massing/footprint) can be approved administratively and does not need to go through the full public process over again. If proposed changes were to include an increase, or substantial decrease, in density, then those proposed plans would still require the full PDD process. 

“Limiting ‘material change’ to maximum reduction of 10% limits the scope and impact of allowed changes that can be made administratively,” Johnson said. “It allows minor and reasonable flexibility that arises from building design and engineering.” 

City staff members concluded that the proposed development changes were deemed within the 10% to be classified as a material change. Still, the Cottonwood Heights Planning Commission reviewed the proposed changes and held public comment. 

The Planning Commission ultimately recommended approval of the changes to the city council with the following recommendations: any proposed reduction is measured from the originally codified development plan (cannot continually request reductions that exceed 10% from the original plan); the maximum reduction of 10% applies to each building individually (cannot reduce any one building by more than 10% utilizing comprehensive site measurements); grammatical clarification to the proposed language; and eliminate “building massing” as it is a vague term that is difficult to quantify. 

On Feb. 7, the Cottonwood Heights City Council held a public hearing on the proposed development changes. There were no comments.