Leeds town council votes down Grapevine Wash development

Leeds Town Council, (L-R) Frank Lojko, Angela Rohr, Mayor Robert Alan, Nate Blake and Joe Allen, Leeds, Utah, Nov. 14, 2012 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

LEEDS – The standing plan for the Grapevine Wash subdivision was voted down by the Leeds Town Council Wednesday night.

In a 4-1 vote, the town council voted down the amended draft of the Grapevine Wash development agreement. A motion to vote on the plan was originally tabled on Oct. 26 due to lingering concerns over unit density and road access. An additional meeting was held between members of the town council with Heath Snow, the town’s attorney, in which the concerns continued to be addressed and further amendments were proposed to the development plan.

Public input

Members of the public were allowed to address the town council before the vote. Among the speakers were longtime development opponents Elliot Sheltman and Ron Condick.

“This changes the whole structure of the town,” Sheltman told the council, restating the concern residents had about the proposed size of the development and gradual changes it would bring to the area. An example of those changes would be a possible widening of the roads to accommodate heavier traffic, and a worry of eminent domain being used to secure right-of-way.

Leeds currently consists of 312 homes. The proposed Grapevine Wash subdivision would have brought in over 2,400 residential units plus commercial businesses. The developers agreed to drop the number of units to 1,870, but that was still too high for many concerned residents. The town council agreed to approve 1,403 units, but the developers had yet to agree to the lower number.

Ron Condick called the development “landlocked,” remarking on the road access necessary for the development. The primary access road proposed by the developers would have to be widened to accommodate the additional traffic into the area. A second access road would be needed once the development reached 101 units. Some proposed access routes cut through private property, land which Condick and other landowners said they were unwilling to sell.

“The vote has to be no,” Sheltman said. “It can’t be any other answer.”

The vote

After some discussion following public comments, council member Joe Allen put forth a motion to vote on the amended Grapevine Wash development plan with a proposed allowance of 1,403 units, rather than the 1,870 units the developers had previously agreed to.

Mayor Alan Roberts seconded the motion. Council members Allen, Frank Lojko, Angela Rohr and Nate Blake voted against the plan. Roberts voted in favor of it.

The vote met with a majority of approval from the audience that packed the small town hall.

Sheltman was pleased with the vote. He said the council was under a lot of pressure to approve the development plan. However, the people of Leeds support their town council, he said.

“We’re happy,” said town resident Joy Goy, summing up the attitude in the town hall after the vote. She said her family moved from California to Leeds for the open space and the quiet atmosphere. A development like Grapevine Wash threatened that sense of tranquility.

Roberts said he voted “yes” because he was comfortable with the amended development agreement and the reduced number of units.

What’s next?

Though the current development agreement between Leeds and the developers has been voted down, it doesn’t mean the issue is altogether concluded.

“The effect of (the vote) is that it is tabled,” Snow said. The developers can revise the agreement and resubmit for council approval. “The ball is in the developer’s court now,” he said.

Concerns were raised in the Oct. 24 meeting that the developers could sue Leeds over violating the original agreement plan that allowed for over 2,400 units. Roberts said he wasn’t too worried about it. Municipalities get sued all the time, he said.

Drake Howell, a representative of the developers, was present at the meeting, but was unavailable for comment following its conclusion.

Previous articles concerning Leeds and Grapevine Wash:
Leeds town council tables vote on development
– Battle of public opinion continues over development near Leeds
– Leeds meeting considers highway interchange and town growth

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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