Victory for Canyons Protection
By a four to three vote on Tuesday, 6 August, Salt Lake County Council protected the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon from a massive development proposed by developer Terry Diehl. Diehl has been scheming to build on a steep parcel at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon for years. It's bad enough he was given the green light to build a single unsafe road to serve a proposed development of 40 plus houses, but he subsequently decided to up the ante and ask for a mixed commercial and residential zoning change that could allow hundreds of units--some of them up to a 100 feet tall--on this relatively small and highly visible parcel.
Please Thank Our Friends
It was encouraging to see the vote to protect the integrity of the canyons enjoyed bi-partisan support. Council members Jim Bradley, Arlyn Bradshaw, Sam Granato and Richard Snelgrove all voted against the re-zone. Take a moment to thank them by using the sample e-mail message provided below or by giving them a phone call.
Photos and contact info for all council members are on the Salt Lake County website. Every Salt Lake County resident is represented by the three at large members whose photos are at the top. In addition to that each resident has a geographical representative in a numbered district; find which one is yours on this map.
(Marjorie Cortez's article in the Deseret News before the planning commission vote provides some useful background.)
<< Sample Message >>
Dear Councilmember _________,
Thank you for your vote to uphold the planning commission's recommendation to deny a zoning change to Terry Diehl's Cottonwood Estates Development on August 6. You gave the public a chance fully to air the potential impacts of the project and then reached the correct decision.
Your vote not only protected an important parcel visible from much of Salt Lake County but the principle of careful zoning in environmentally-sensitive places. This decision also sets a useful precedent against intrusive, multi-story development high in the foothills elsewhere in the county.
The Cottonwood Canyons are superlative assets for Salt Lake County as watershed, wilderness, family and solitary recreation, and, in the appropriate locations, economic development. These values are once again secure thanks to your vote!
Should the Tavaci Proposal be Described as Transit-Oriented Development?
At the 6 August Salt Lake County Council meeting, one of the council members observed incorrectly he "would catch hell from his friends at the Sierra Club" if he voted against the re-zone because it was a transit-oriented development. Later, in conversation with a member of Sierra Club staff, the council member volunteered that he thought the project could be made transit friendly by connecting the proposed development--separated from any future transit in the bottom of the canyon both by Big Cottonwood Creek and a couple of hundred feet in elevation--to light rail or a bus system via a short funicular railroad. Since the developer proposed at the same meeting a total of 380 residential units plus a hotel, It seems improbable that the cost of a funicular railroad, however short, could be amortized by a development of this size.
The Sierra Club enthusiastically supports transit-oriented development but not on every conceivable site. This site in particular is ill suited. Moreover the project rejected by the council would not have been transit-oriented development. The common denominator for transit-oriented development is that they should be accessible on foot from high-quality transit. It's probably safe to say that the only pedestrians who will ever walk down the steep, narrow and scary luge-run that passes for an access road into the Tavaci site are those who have accepted it on a bet or a dare.
Club members and the general public should know the chapter has opposed this project since its inception.