City considering ramifications of 95-acre annexation, including the Tavaci neighborhoodFeb 02, 2024 10:06AM ● By Cassie Goff
The petition for annexation of 95 acres of realty nestled in the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon has been submitted to the City of Cottonwood Heights and plans to continue the process of review in the upcoming months. The area being considered for annexation into the city includes the development commonly referred to as the Tavaci neighborhoods as well as 50 acres spanning to the north.
The annexation petition was originally filed on Oct. 2, 2023. The petition was accepted by the Cottonwood Heights City Council for further consideration on Oct. 17, and certified (ensuring the petition satisfied the requirements of state law) by the city recorder on Nov. 16. A protest period then ran until Dec. 16.
“We didn’t have any legal protests,” reported Mayor Mike Weichers.
Continuing through the legal process, with no protests needing to be addressed, a public hearing needs to be held. The city will be required to notice residents of that public hearing in the surrounding area by (snail) mail. As of publication, that public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 6 during the Cottonwood Heights City Council meeting.
“State law doesn’t tell us how long after the annexation petition hearing occurs that the council has to make a decision,” said City Attorney Shane Topham.
The council will ultimately need to make a decision to grant or deny the annexation later this year. Topham recommended coming to that decision within two to three months after the public hearing.
Since the councilmembers have been thinking about this petition all winter, a handful of concerns and potential impacts to the city have been brought up. Many residents and city leaders have expressed concerns over the costs of additional road and city maintenance, public safety response, and potential future development within the area.
“A consensus from many residents who are objecting to this is the concern about Cottonwood Heights having to take over maintenance and upkeep of the roads in the Tavaci development,” Weichers said.
Currently, the roads within the Tavaci development, including the bridge into the neighborhoods, are managed and privately owned by the HOA. Weichers wondered if the city could request that the current HOA creates a tax service district. Then, the tax service district would be able to take care of road maintenance costs in the future.
“What protections would the city have if the HOA defaulted? I’m just trying to look in the future,” Weichers said.
Councilmember Shawn Newell expressed concern over the ingress and egress access points for the Tavaci development, in addition to the road maintenance.
“Do we want any kind of responsibility for a bridge?” asked Newell. “Things like that can add up to a whole lot of money.”
Councilmember Ellen Birrell voiced a complementary concern over the bridge roadway. Being so close to the Water Treatment Plant, she’s curious if the roadway is compliant with the Clean Water Protection Act.
Community and Economic Development Director Mike Johnson mentioned how the bridge is essentially the only point of access for the Tavaci development, even though there was a secondary point of egress originally planned.
“If you go up there, it (the platted secondary access point) drops straight off the side of the mountain right now. They are in the process with Salt Lake County of removing that secondary access point from their subdivision plat,” Johnson said.
“I think it would be safer to leave it in the County and not let them come into Cottonwood Heights. There’s just too many unknown situations and risks,” said Resident Larry Larsen. “For instance, it doesn’t have a secondary access….which means it’s not approved in the code for fire protection, police, or emergency services. They call for secondary access.”
Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo added that the area wouldn’t necessarily be serviced by CHPD as it falls outside of the city’s boundaries. Referencing how UPD and the Sherrif’s Office are currently in the process of separating, he wasn’t quite sure who would be assigned to respond to nonemergency calls for service (like alarm drops or day-to-day patrol) as it would be the charge of county corridors. He speculated that Millcreek, Holiday, or canyon cars might be sent.
“Otherwise, they will have to send an unincorporated car and I’m not sure if that comes from Granite West, White City, or Kearns,” Russo said.
The average home value of all the currently (as of publication) finished homes within the Tavaci neighborhoods amounts to $2.5 million. Johnson ran some preliminary tax projection numbers for the Tavaci development by averaging the value of the homes that are occupied today, multiplying that by the total number of lots, and multiplying by the local tax rate accounting for Utah’s residential properpty tax exemption. Rounding up, the estimated tax revenue for the city would be around $100,000 to $150,000 annually. This does not include the 50-acre parcel north of the Tavaci neighborhoods.
While the council knows what to expect within the Tavaci neighborhoods, the future of the 50-acre parcel is uncertain. Johnson believes much of the area along that hillside is not developable as it sits up on the ridge, especially with current city ordinances. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be some sort of development plan proposed in the future.
“That 50-acre parcel… is owned by the same owner as the Gravel Pit. I have no confirmation, but I do suspect when the Gravel Pit development plans come in that all of this will, somehow, try to connect together,” Johnson said.
Birrell shared with the council that she was alarmed when she realized “we’re not just talking about Tavaci, we’re talking about another 50 acres owned by the Walker Family Trust.”
“I don’t know if it’s better or worse for us to be the jurisdiction that would manage a development application,” Johnson said. “If we’re not, then the County is, and we have a little less say of any future development plan that impacts that.”
This article continues from our June 2023 coverage titled “Tavaci development intends to petition for annexation within Cottonwood Heights.” To view, visit our website at: www.cottonwoodheightsjouranl.com.
To view the Cottonwood Heights Resolution (2023-56) accepting the Annexation Petition, visit the Cottonwood Heights website at www.cottonwoodheights.utah.gov. Then, navigate to the “Your Government” tab, and click on the “Recent Council Actions” page.
As of publication, the Public Hearing has been scheduled during the Business Session of the Cottonwood Heights City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 7pm. City Council Meetings are held at Cottonwood Heights City Hall (2277 Bengal Blvd.).
To view the Cottonwood Heights City Council Agendas, visit the Cottonwood Heights website at www.cottonwoodheights.utah.gov. λ