Controversial Old West development seeks new location; Hurricane faces lawsuit

Members of the Hurricane Planning Commission at a meeting regarding the Cove property in Hurricane, Utah, May 9, 2019 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Despite the few months it took to change the Hurricane general plan to allow for an Old West town development and the protests that ensued, the “Lost Trails” development is now moving to a new location.

A rendering of the Old West town at the heart of the proposed Lost Trails at the Cove mixed-use development in Hurricane, Utah | Image courtesy of project manager Larry Juarez, St. George News

The development fell through when it was discovered the owners of the property did not have the required access to a BLM road that would have been used for fire and safety.

“We were told that they had it,” developer Jim Thomas said, referring to the owners, Toquerville Enterprises. “The BLM doesn’t show any record of it, and now the owners can’t find the documentation that we have it.”

Thomas told St. George News the Lost Trails development team is now looking at alternative locations for the Old West town, with Elim Valley being one possibility.

Project manager Larry Juarez declined to comment on other possible locations because it might hurt the team’s bargaining position. He said the renderings for the project will pretty much remain the same.

Meanwhile, the future of the Cove property remains unclear due to pending litigation against the city for its actions in amending the general plan to accommodate the development. The Hurricane City Council voted unanimously March 7 to allow 122 acres to be rezoned to mixed use instead of residential.

Read more: Hurricane City Council opens door for controversial development

Members of the Sky Mountain Home Owners Association, who opposed changing the general plan and have attended multiple meetings concerning the Cove property, filed a petition of review April 3 in 5th District Court asking a judge to set aside the City Council’s decision.

Penny James-Garcia, community manager for Sky Mountain, told St. George News that the council’s approval of the amendment goes against the city’s own ordinances and procedures.

Hurricane residents, at meetings regarding the development, expressed fear that the project would fail and the developers would leave.

What we were concerned might happen is now happening,” James-Garcia said. “Now we have 122 acres of that property that has been changed on the general plan map, and nobody knows why it’s there, what they’re going to do with it.”

According to the petition for review, Thomas didn’t provide a sufficient written statement explaining why the former general plan was no longer feasible or appropriate, which is required under city ordinances.

“Many of the Petitioner’s members chose to settle at Hurricane because of its General Plan, its commitment to reasoned and well-planned growth, and its commitment to the natural environment,” the petition states.

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

It also states other concerns that Garcia said she feels the City Council ignored, such as the number of signed petitions against the general map amendment change, the number of constituents who spoke against the change at previous meetings, the planning commission recommending that City Council deny the change and the developer not obeying certain city ordinances.

Garcia said she is again concerned about what will happen with the Cove property because Toquerville Enterprises is seeking a zoning map amendment to change the 122 acres to planned commercial.

According to city staff comments provided to the Hurricane Planning Commission, the request was submitted “without a plan for the locations of any specific types of commercial uses being planned or proposed.”

Staff urged the planning commission to recommend that City Council deny the application. The public hearing and vote on the application were scheduled for a meeting Thursday but were tabled because of the lawsuit against the city.

City Attorney Fay Reber said it could take a couple of months to a year to resolve.

“The application that we have now, of course, is based on that approved amendment to the general plan, so it doesn’t make sense for the city to consider a zone change based on that amendment until we know for a certainty what the outcome of that litigation is going to be,” Reber said at the meeting.

He told St. George News after the meeting that the city has hired a law firm from Salt Lake City to handle the case.

“The city is fairly confident that its decision to approve the amendment to the general plan will be upheld by the court,” he said, adding that city officials also respect the legal process and the ability of the general public to request a review of that decision.

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Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

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

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