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New plans to develop 6,300-unit Olympia Hills development near Herriman under negotiation

New plans to develop 6,300-unit Olympia Hills development near Herriman under negotiation

(Steve Griffin, KSL, File)


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HERRIMAN — It's round two for a big, Daybreak-like development near Herriman that Salt Lake County officials axed last year amid public outcry.

This time, it's scaled down — but would still bring big changes to west Salt Lake County and Herriman.

The developers of the project, named Olympia Hills, submitted last week their revised zoning application to the county — beginning a review and negotiation process that may make changes to the proposal in coming weeks or months before it goes before the Salt Lake County Council.

"I think we've made it a better project," developer Doug Young told the Deseret News on Monday. "We're encouraged and excited about the future."

When Olympia Hills was first proposed — and passed by the Salt Lake County Council — it would have brought more than 8,700 units made up of mostly townhomes and apartments to about 930 acres of unincorporated land west of Herriman, near 8500 West and 13100 South.

Some estimated it had the potential to bring more than 30,000 residents to the area — and could have been big enough to make up perhaps what could have become Salt Lake County's next city.

After outrage from nearby residents who learned about the project late in the process — concerned the development would further snarl traffic and put pressure on nearby neighborhoods — Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams vetoed the project, pressing reset.

Now, Young is proposing a new version of Olympia Hills, one that would still bring townhomes and apartments in addition to single-family homes, but on a less dense scale.

This time, Young's proposal includes 6,330 units on about 931 acres, according to application documents Salt Lake County provided to the Deseret News on Monday. The development would include neighborhoods with churches, common areas and open space, as well as "villages" and "town centers" with mixed housing types and commercial spaces.

The plans also include an "institutional business, research or educational campus," where a Utah State University extension campus is envisioned, recently unveiled as the Bastian Agricultural Center after the Bastian family donated 100 acres of farmland to the university.

Young called the partnership with Utah State University a "key element" to the project. He said that, combined with added open space and lower density, should help neighboring communities accept the project. But he also expects pushback, despite the changes.

"Of course, density is always an issue," he said. "I think those issues will continue to be there, but hopefully we can mitigate the impact to the best of our abilities."

Young noted his new zoning application includes traffic studies indicating that over the 20 to 30 years the project will take to develop, both existing and future roads will be able to handle the growth.

"It's not like a grand opening for Costco, right?" he said. "It actually takes 20 to 30 years on a project like this to roll it out. I think (the traffic studies) addressed that … If you look at the density, if it happened all at once with the roads currently there, it would be devastating. But the plan is to work with the county, the state and of course ourselves and obviously build the roads necessary to accommodate Olympia Hills."

Justin Swain, a Herriman resident and member of the group Utah for Responsible Growth who last year filed paperwork for a petition to put Olympia Hills to a referendum had it not been vetoed, said Monday they're "cautious" about Young's updated proposal.

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"We're patiently waiting, still," he said, adding that his group will be waiting to see what county officials negotiate with Young. "We certainly don't want to just be an opposition group."

Swain said Young's updated proposal would still bring drastically higher density than what Herriman and other surrounding communities are accustomed to.

Swain said he likes elements of master-planned communities like South Jordan's Daybreak, but since Olympia Hills would be on a more compact swath of land (930 acres rather than 4,000 acres), he sees comparing the two like comparing "apples to oranges."

"From a high level, I love the idea of that type of community," Swain said. "But, again, location and infrastructure have to be able to support it. They have to. Otherwise, it just creates near-irreversible consequences."

Swain said his group isn't opposed to growth — but rather irresponsible growth.

"We want balance, and we want what makes sense," he said.

Swain credited Salt Lake County leaders for keeping the public informed of the upcoming process and for doing "much more this time around to make sure those lines of communication stay open."

The Salt Lake County Council passed a resolution in March opening the door for a new Olympia Hills zoning application, but included a list of expectations for the project, including a mix of housing options and incentives for affordable housing, street connectivity, open space, and plans for infrastructure and commitments for transportation, water and sewer. Young in his application included a response to the resolution, listing elements of the proposal to address the council's expectations.

In a joint statement from Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson and the Salt Lake County Council, county leaders said they will host public hearings on the process and look forward to taking public input on the project.

Ryan Perry, senior advisor to Wilson, said Monday the mayor's administration is currently negotiating with Young on the proposal with the goal of drafting a development agreement before bringing it before the County Council.

"We are looking forward to addressing the citizens' concerns," Perry said, adding that the development agreement will "really define whether or not the community accepts the project or rejects it."

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Katie McKellar

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