HERRIMAN — Residents apprehensive about a high-density community in southwest Salt Lake County jammed into a school gym Wednesday evening to learn more about the project and air their concerns with developers.
"Traffic is a huge concern, water is a huge concern, schooling is a huge concern, just infrastructure in general. We don't have the infrastructure, there's no east-west connections anywhere, and adding potentially 25,000 people to this is just totally irresponsible. It's scary," said Haley Hill, of Herriman.
The proposed Olympia Hills project, which went down last year amid public backlash, has arisen in a revised form.
Former Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams vetoed the project last June after the County Council approved a zone change for the 930-acre development on the unincorporated land west of Herriman.
Initially proposed for nine housing units per acre, developers have reduced that to just under seven. Instead of 8,800 housing units, it would now be around 6,500, including single-family homes, apartments and condominiums, developer Doug Young has said.
Dozens of residents showed up during Wednesday's open house at Bastian Elementary School to say they're not happy about the revised proposal, many to express concerns about the potential impacts on traffic, taxes, safety and the environment.
Tim Marshall said he attended the event to hear what the developers had to say.
"It seems like they're doing some due diligence," Marshall acknowledge of the event. "I'm definitely for development, just smart, responsible development." But he said he takes issue with the idea suggested by developers that the community will be "vehicle-optional."
"I just don't see that actually coming to fruition. Scooters are nice, but we live in Utah. It's five months out of the year you're not riding scooters, right? And to assume that everybody's going to live and work in a 1.47 square mile radius is naive," Marshall said.
He said he wasn't surprised when Young returned with a revised proposal, but that many residents expected the new proposal to include a lower density.
Annalyn Hayes said she believes the development is "putting the cart before the horse."
"Their ideal of the community would be great, but their ideal isn't practical, I don't feel, for the Utah culture. We're not the San Francisco type that love our public transit," she said.
Lacy Croft, of Riverton, also said he sees the developers' vision as unrealistic.
"I think Mr. Young, the developer, is dreaming when he says it's a live, work, play (community), and cars are optional. How much of the entertainment world is it gonna duplicate out there, like Hale Theater, and other places of entertainment that people go to? They're going to need a car. There's gonna be massive amounts of cars," Croft said.
During the open house, residents were able to ask several developers and engineers those questions. Posters on easels around the gym displayed plans for water and other elements of the proposed project. There were also index cards where people could write their feedback for the developers.
"We're hoping that the residents will come and look at what we're proposing in the community out here and give us suggestions and ideas of how they feel like that we can improve the community. That's really our goal for tonight," Young told the Deseret News before the event.
"I think that we've become more focused on the direction that we need to go. I think that we've fine-tuned a lot of the aspects of the community, and I think we are better equipped to respond to the residents here," he explained.
Like many who attended to ask questions, Jon and Jennifer Jessop also said they're concerned about infrastructure and crime.
"It's just everything that's going to come with it. I mean, I don't know how they can expect to have that large of a growth and not be prepared for what's gonna happen. And I highly doubt that the developer lives out here. So they don't deal with the frustrations that we have already in place. So it's easy for them to come and put something in that they don't have to deal with the aftermath," Jennifer Jessop said.
"Nobody here is against development, but there needs to be some sort of responsibility," Jon Jessop said, adding that there weren't many people at the open house to answer their questions.
After the event, Croft said his questions weren't resolved and he hadn't seen much to support the suggestion that new development could attract tech giants to the area.
"I heard a lot of 'hope' from the developers. We hope, we assume, and no definite commitments from large companies like Facebook, Google, Adobe, that sort of thing. I think they're still in dreamland."
The developers will hold another open house on Thursday at Golden Fields Elementary School, 10252 S. Split Rock Drive, in South Jordan at 6 p.m.