Potential development now in Coalville City’s hands
Coalville City resident Celeste Gates was like most of those who attended the Coalville City Council meeting last week. When councilors approved the annexation of more than 1,700 acres into the city, she thought that the approval was an endorsement for a 500-home luxury community.
Gates now realizes any future development will still have to go through a formal review process. But, she’s still concerned its approval is inevitable.
“I guess it doesn’t mean the development is approved, but I still kind of think it does,” she said. “The developer had his plan, his map and everything there. This is only the annexation approval, but some say it’s the go ahead and OK for everything else and I believe that.”
Gates was one of nearly 200 North Summit residents who were at the discussion when City Council members narrowly approved the annexation request, 3-2. Those in attendance were overwhelmingly against the application, with most of the opposition stemming from concerns regarding the proposed development.
Wohali Partners LLC, the petitioners for the annexation and representative of the landowners, wants to develop 1,500 acres of the land for a private gated community over the course of 10 years. It would comprise homes ranging between 800 square feet and more than 5,000 square feet along a private golf course. The homes would cost between $800,000 and more than $4.5 million.
As of Tuesday, no application for the development had been submitted to the city. Wohali Partners LLC was unavailable for comment about when a formal proposal would be submitted.
Mayor Trever Johnson said it is in the city’s best interest to have oversight of any potential development or project.
“Given the option that the developer had the ability to go through the county and the likelihood of something being up there regardless, it was better to have this under the city’s control,” he said. “The city is capable of doing this and confident enough to handle and manage a project like that.
“But, again, there are no real details because it is just a concept plan,” he added. “The devil is in the details and that’s where the hard decisions will be made.”
Johnson said it will be an uphill battle for the landowner. He said the approved zoning for the property, at one unit per 20 acres, as well as the topography and need for infrastructure, will make it difficult to develop.
“It will just depend on what kind of appetite they have to do it,” he said.
Coalville City Community Development Director Shane McFarland said the development will go through the same review process as any other project. Once an application is submitted, city staff will work with the developer on conceptual designs and planning before it goes in front of the Planning Commission and City Council.
“There will be three or more opportunities for city and staff, as well as the public, to weigh in on how it will all be laid out,” he said. “We were concerned with how we can handle it as a city. Now that we’ve gone over that, it’s time to get into the fine details. In no way did what happened on (March 12) approve any form of building.”
City Councilors are also curious as to how the proposal will move forward. Cody Blonquist, who cast a dissenting vote last week along with Rodney Robbins, said he wants to see more information about the financial responsibility the city would have to take on because of the project.
“I want to see the numbers,” he said. “I’d like to see some sort of a third-party study that lays out the city’s financial exposure if we were to go ahead and approve the development. I don’t have an opinion on what I think it should be other than I want to see the data before I vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on anything. That’s my obligation.”
City Council member Adrianne Anson said the annexation now gives the city the ability to dictate its future. Anson voted in favor of the application.
“We have a little bit of teeth in the game now about what exactly is going on and how it will impact our community,” she said. “It’s empowerment and taking control of what happens to us, which allows us our opportunity to act instead of being acted upon.”
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Hideout residents have begun the process to challenge the town’s annexation of Richardson Flat. The referendum application is in its early stages, but a group of residents will be tasked with collecting about 100 signatures in coming months to put the question to voters.