Wohali developers submit a scaled-back application for Coalville development
As Coalville residents get closer to gathering enough signatures to contest the approval of the controversial Wohali development through a ballot measure in June, the developers have submitted a second application to the city that shows the scale of the project they believe they’re already entitled to build on their land.
Instead of 570 homes and 130 nightly rentals in Wohali’s already-approved plan, the new application calls for 125 homes and 303 nightly rentals. Most of the amenities remain, including 27 holes of golf, a spa and a lodge, but the new plan calls for a gated community without public access to those facilities. The developers have touted public access to the facilities as a community perk.
The 303 nightly rentals would be in standalone cabins or cottages, the city’s planning consultant Don Sargent said, built to support the golf courses. He added that there isn’t much in the development code regulating that type of structure, so it is unclear whether — and how many — nightly rentals would be allowed.
Coalville does not have an ordinance against having two pending applications for the same land at the same time, City Attorney Sheldon Smith said. He added that the city is taking the position that the first application is no longer active, as it is on hold pending the result of the ongoing push to overturn its December approval via referendum. The developer is paying fees related to reviewing the application, Smith said.
Developer Jim Boyden, whose family owns the land along with other partners, said he believes they are entitled to build the project laid out in the second application without any further zoning changes. He said the plan is what Wohali would pursue if the referendum is successful.
“We, of course, are hopeful we can proceed with our original plan,” Boyden said. “Should the referendum succeed and the zoning that was granted to us by the City Council in December be overturned, then the plan would be to submit a development application based on the original (agriculture) zoning that was granted to us at the time of the annexation.”
The developers have submitted essentially the original project’s first phase as a standalone application, Boyden said, with major changes being 445 fewer single-family homes than in the original proposal and no public access.
When Coalville annexed the 1,757 acres into its borders in 2018 at the request of the developers, it essentially doubled the size of the city. Nearly 200 residents went to that public hearing, and residents have continued to attend a series of contentious public hearings expressing opposition to the development.
When the City Council approved the zoning change in December allowing Wohali to move forward with its initial proposal, an opposition group began the push to overturn the decision through a referendum. The group has until Feb. 24 to gather 241 signatures, which would trigger a June special election. The approval is on hold until the referendum is decided, either by failing to gather the requisite number of signatures or until voters decide the issue.
Coalville Mayor Trever Johnson has questioned whether residents understand the scope of the project that would be allowed under current zoning laws — whether, in effect, they know what they’d be voting on in June. The new Wohali application helps spell that out.
A pro-referendum website indicates the group had collected 218 signatures as of Friday morning, but organizer Lynn Wood wrote in an email to The Park Record that number had not been updated in a few days and that they expect to collect the requisite signatures well before the deadline.
The already-approved concept calls for a second-home community centering on a denser village core surrounded by larger properties at the perimeter. It includes 27 holes of golf, a lodge, a spa, a village plaza, miles of trails, a splash pad and a small commercial zone, all of which would be open to the public. Opponents worry it does not fit the city’s rural identity.
The new application includes many of the same amenities and is essentially a scaled-down version of the original plan, but Boyden said it would be a gated community without public access to the amenities. The new application’s first phase includes 102 homes, the same as in the original application.
“The gate will allow us to maximize the value of the properties,” he said. “With the reduction of the density, we see that as a critical component.”
When the land was annexed into Coalville, it was granted agricultural zoning that allows one residence for every 20 acres, meaning the project’s 1,664 acres would yield 83 residential units. That number is increased by half – up to 125 units – because developers are using an incentive that rewards proposals that include a lot of open space with increased density.
Wood, the referendum organizer, said the group has reviewed the new application and that its size is a better fit for the community. She added the group still has concerns about water and the number of nightly rentals.
“We are very hopeful that the ultimate project will be a better scale and fit for the community,” Wood said. “Things are definitely moving in the right direction!”
Water has been a consistent source of controversy in the process. In the original proposal, the developers indicated they would tie in to the city’s culinary water system and eventually drill new wells that would essentially increase its water supply. Residents expressed concerns that it would impact the city’s current source, Icy Spring.
The original plan also called for the developer to pay for a water diversion and storage system to irrigate the golf course.
Under the new proposal, the development would still pay to tie in to the city’s system but would not be required to drill new wells, according to Sargent, the city’s planner.
The proposal suggests the developers would still pay for a water diversion system from the Weber River.
The plan is scheduled to be heard at the Feb. 18 Planning Commission meeting.
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