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Bountiful residents speak out against land swap during city council public hearing

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Oct 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-28 08:00:17-04

BOUNTIFUL, Utah -- Bountiful residents were heard loud and clear by city council Tuesday night. The issue at stake is a proposed land swap with a private developer.

The mayor said it was the most people he had ever seen at a Bountiful city council meeting.

From the council chambers, to the hallways, to the floor beneath the mayor, hundreds of residents packed in for the meeting. The land swap involves 156 acres of land owned by the U.S Forest Service, located at the base of Twin Hollow Park.

A private developer is proposing to trade for it, in exchange for a 160-acre parcel east of the city above Maple Hills Subdivision. The developer wants to build new houses.

Residents say the mountainous, open space, has been a popular place for recreational activities for generations and they don't want to lose it. It's also home to the Bountiful Lions Club Rifle Range.

"We want to save our mountain, the mountain that we bike on, ride our ATVs on, shoot on, ride bikes on and enjoy God's creations on, we're not interested in 160 acres elsewhere," said resident Randle Edwards.

"We are the citizens living today that have gained that heritage and we are not going to give up easily to see that heritage destroyed," said resident Earl Thomas.

"Today is a significant day -- it's the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt. He is the one that established the U.S. Forest Service to protect that land. Why not honor his birthday by saying no," said resident Mark Mason.

The land owner proposing the trade says they only want to develop 56 acres of the open space in order to build 100 to 150 houses. They say the rest will remain untouched and preserved, while the gun range will stay in business. They say they want to improve the community not hurt it.

"I'll make you a promise with the cameras rolling the tapes playing I will work with you to develop that as the community wishes if you vote affirmatively tonight," said Jaren Davis of JLD Development.

The city has scheduled a special meeting on Nov. 17 when they are expected to decide on the land swap. However, even if they vote against it, the developer could still bypass the city and work directly with the U.S. Forest Service.