Hurricane City Council opens door for controversial development

Hurricane City Council members discuss the proposed "Lost Trails at the Cove" development at a meeting, Hurricane, Utah, March 7, 2019 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — After weeks of meetings and one of the longest discussions on a project council members say they’ve ever seen, the Hurricane City Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve an amendment to the general plan for the development “Lost Trails at the Cove.”

It’s been more than eight weeks since Washington City developer Jim Thomas’ plans emerged to bring an Old West town development to Hurricane, a proposal that prompted sometimes heated protests by residents.

City Council was scheduled to vote on the plan Feb. 7, but due to a lack of information from Thomas and his development team, the decision was tabled until the council’s next meeting on Feb. 21. The decision was again delayed due to council members not receiving the information they asked for.

Read more: Hurricane City Council postpones decision on controversial development

The Fine Arts Center was again packed Thursday night as council members debated and ultimately approved Thomas’ request to amend the general plan – rejecting the planning commission’s recommendation.

“We feel like it will be an asset to the community,” Thomas told St. George News after the meeting. “I think people will be pleasantly surprised at how much it will fit in.”

L-R: Project manager Larry Juarez, Washington City developer Jim Thomas and agent Karl Rasmussen present changes on the proposed development “Lost Trails at the Cove” at a Hurricane City Council meeting, Hurricane, Utah, March 7. 2019 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

The information council members wanted from Thomas and his team was whether a BLM-designated road could be used for emergency access. Thomas said they are working with the BLM on the situation.

Although City Council members voted to approve the plan, some modifications were made to the original application.

Thomas had wanted 340 acres in an area known as the Cove to be rezoned to mixed use – which would allow for residential, commercial, industrial and other uses.

Many residents and council members expressed concern over all 340 acres being rezoned to mixed use, with some saying it would allow Thomas to do whatever he wants.

In response, he modified his request, asking that 160 acres be rezoned for mixed use while the remaining 180 acres would be residential.

“I do like the fact that it’s limiting some of the potential use,” said council member Darin Larson.

After discussions, however, the final result was that 125 acres would be mixed use and 215 acres residential.

Council members also addressed residents’ concerns over potential noise and increased traffic.

Hurricane City Council members discuss the proposed “Lost Trails at the Cove” development at a meeting, Hurricane, Utah, March 7, 2019 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

Larson said City Council members decided to conduct their own tests in regard to noise from gunshots, which might potentially be heard from the Wild West shows the development plans to have.

Council members and city staff were placed throughout surrounding areas, such as Sky Mountain Golf Course and elementary schools, while guns were fired from the proposed commercial site.

“We had them fire off guns that would be typical to what you might hear at an outside gunfight or whatever,” Larson said. “The sound that we got from that was nearly negligible.”

“Does this proposed change to the general plan promote the public interest?” Kevin Thomas said while making a motion to approve the general plan amendment. “I believe the answer to this is yes.”

He added that the development would promote tourism and money coming into the Hurricane Valley.

The vote was unanimous, but Mayor John Bramall was absent due to personal reasons.

Although the council’s decision was met with some applause, others were displeased with the decision. Some muttered phrases such as, “Shame on you” as they stood to leave.

Jim Thomas said the next step will be approving the zoning change.

“Once that’s done, our investors will come in, and we’ll start with the infrastructure,” he said.

Email: mheckenliable@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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