Developer discusses geotechnical studies after home destroyed by landslide

Posted at 9:50 PM, Aug 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-08 08:59:57-04

NORTH SALT LAKE -- Years before one home crumbled in North Salt Lake, the developer behind the project was given the approval by the city to build it.

Scott Kjar, a manager at Eaglepointe Development spoke about the issue.

“We’ve done 1,500 other lots, 1,500 lots,” he said. “This is just an anomaly. This isn’t our first time we’ve done this. We’ve been doing this since 1992.”

According Kjar, there were never any warning signs, as far as he knew, that a slide could happen.

“We hire engineers to give us their opinion and we follow their opinion,” Kjar said. “The city reviews their opinion. And we do the best that we know. And then we build based on all those recommendations.”

His company, Sky Properties, commissioned two geotechnical studies in 2003 and 2013 on the area surrounding the slope.

The first found the site “suitable for the proposed residential development.” The second said, “The existing slope is globally stable.”

“Our engineers, we hire them for that, so that is what we hire professionals for,” Kjar said. “That’s what they’re there for.”

But other evidence suggests there were some problems.

Back in 2004, a former geologist with the Utah Geological Survey captured smaller slides at the same hill that collapsed this week.

“That clay is like a slip and slide on the small scale, mineral scale,” said Adam McKean, a geologist with the Survey.

According to him, the makeup of the hill makes it more likely to have problems in the future, as is the case with many other slopes in the area.

“That volcanic sedimentary rock, it’s a really weak layer,” McKean said. “It’s prone to sliding. We see it forming slides at Springhill Landslide. We see it forming landslides in City Creek Canyon, as well.”

But Kjar was still given permission to move forward by his engineers, and then the city’s, who according to him, all never saw this coming.

“Everyone did their best, and sometimes stuff just happens that you can’t predict,” Kjar said.