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Growing Tooele County has community development project on ballot

Posted at 4:17 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 21:04:48-04

TOOELE, Utah — For the last few years, a large ‘planned community’ has been in the works in northeastern Tooele County.

On the county’s election ballot, Ordinance 2018-15 or the development of Adobe Rock Ranch, is ballot proposition two.

According to the project’s website, paid for by Kennecott Utah Copper LLC, the development is a 1,444 acre ranch and agricultural property that was rezoned in late 2018 to a planned community zone. The property is south of I-80 and on both sides of highway 36. The land is owned by Kennecott Rio Tinto.

“Because of the growth that’s coming to the county, you can’t push the stop button and say oh stop growing, people are coming here,” said Tooele County Commissioner Kendall Thomas, who is in support of moving forward with the Adobe Rock Ranch development. “It’s important that we have planned community that provide great services and this is certainly a well thought out development proposal.”

The development would include more than 4,700 homes, business space, a ‘town center’ area as well as community space for trails. According to Thomas, the buildout would take between 20 and 30 years to complete.

“We have available space and a beautiful valley to live in so we are under great pressure especially in the north end of Tooele County, the Lake Point, Erda and Stansbury as well as Tooele County we’re just growing,” said Commissioner Thomas, who acknowledged the continued growth in nearby Salt Lake Valley.

Both those ‘for’ and ‘against’ the proposition have noted the potential traffic concerns the development would bring to the county.

According to Commissioner Thomas, Kennecott has been working with Utah Department of Transportation on traffic plans and future roadways to and from the Tooele Valley to alleviate those concerns.

"Kennecott has a long history working with UDOT and county leaders to facilitate innovative traffic solutions, including the mid-valley off ramp and the future expansion plans of the intersection of highway 201 and I-80," said Rio Tinto Kennecott in a statement to Fox13. "We envision that as Adobe Rock Ranch moves forward, we will have more opportunities to work with UDOT and county leaders on traffic solutions in the area."

Meanwhile, some residents of the bordering Lake Point community are against the proposition.

“Our biggest concern is that density level and really the stress to our resources,” said Lake Point resident Richard Cunningham, who owns property that borders current land involved in the proposal. “I mean you see people riding their four-wheelers through town, their horses through town, everyone waves to each other it’s just a beautiful community that we want to preserve.”

Cunningham says that he and community members have been meeting with Kennecott representatives for the past few years to work on a plan that would better blend the community with newer homes and a development.

Cunningham feels that the entire western portion of the project, between I-80 and Hwy 36 won’t come to fruition because of the type of land.

“The problem with it over there across the highway is that it’s mostly wetlands they can’t really build there and once they realize that start saying ok most of it will be over here (east side of Hwy 36 near Adobe Rock),” said Cunningham to Fox13.

"Comprehensive soil studies and wetlands delineation will be part of the next stage of planning, which will be undertaken by the project developer," Rio Tinto Kennecott tells Fox13 in response.

He feels the current 3.3 units per acre density would only work if all of the land was usable and that it will dramatically increase if they cannot use most of the land to build on. “We did the math, if we really do that it’s same as putting all of the city of Grantsville into that small section (on the east side).”

As Utah’s population and economy continue to boom, the number of people living in Tooele County is projected to nearly double in the next 25-30 years. Proposition 2 aims to plan for growth through the development of a mix of residential, commercial, and retail space, while preserving open spaces and local history. Adobe Rock Ranch envisions Tooele County as a model for sustainable, smart growth, and a place where people at any stage of life can make their home in a beautiful, inclusive community. - Jeff Stephenson, Principal Advisor, Land Transactions at Rio Tinto

To learn more about both sides of the argument for/against proposition two, Tooele County Elections has information on their website.