Showdown Over Gravel Pit Intensifying

Showdown Over Gravel Pit Intensifying

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John Daley ReportingIn less than a month voters in Sandy will get to weigh in on that city's biggest fight in years, whether to rezone a gravel pit to allow super-sized Wal-Mart and Lowes stores to be built there. The showdown is intensifying.

The developer, the Boyer Company, and Wal-mart have a lot riding on next month's vote and they're spending plenty of money on phone polls, mailers and signage. But opponents of the project say the campaign crosses the line.

Showdown Over Gravel Pit Intensifying

With the critical gravel pit rezone vote coming up next month, residents are getting deluged with mailers in favor of the project. They see new billboards along the controversial gravel pit site and they're getting plenty of calls from pollsters.

Telephone Poll: "Do you think you would vote for referendum one to approve the zoning ordinance change at the gravel pit or would you vote against referendum one, the zoning change, and block the new development?"

The poll goes beyond the gravel pit dispute, asking about the new Real Salt Lake soccer stadium, which it says will not mean a tax increase.

Telephone Poll: "Knowing this do you favor or oppose putting the new stadium in Sandy?"

The last question asks about religion

Telephone Poll: "Now for statistical purposes, as far as religious preference, are you Mormon, catholic, Protestant, Jewish?" Answer: "hat does that have to do with anything?" Pollster: "I dunno."

Opponents of the project call the polls 'push polls' designed to both gauge public opinion and to shape it. They say the polls intentionally muddy the issue, and as for the question about religion, which many pollsters ask as a matter of routine. The opponents say they don't understand why it's relevant, and it can be offensive.

Cynthia Long, Save Our Communities: "To me it's an inappropriate question to ask."

Robyn Bagley, Save Our Communities: "It shows Wal-Mart and Boyer will stop at nothing to buy the citizen's vote."

The group Friends of Quarry Bend is almost entirely funded by the two big box retailers Wal-Mart and Lowes, and is paying for the polls. When we requested an interview today, the group said no spokesman was available and instead referred us to another group in favor of the project.

City councilman Bryant Anderson says the project will be good for the city and its bottom line, but, like project opponents, he too objects to the poll's religion question.

Bryant Anderson, Citizens for Sandy: "I kind of agree with them on that."

The referendum vote takes place on Election Day, which is Tuesday November 8th. Sandy residents can expect plenty of information between now and then to come their way, from both sides.

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