West Valley City officials recommend controversial rezone of Redwood Swap Meet site

Foes of the proposed redevelopment of the Redwood Swap Meet site crowded into the West Valley City Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday.

Foes of the proposed redevelopment of the Redwood Swap Meet site crowded into the West Valley City Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday. (Tim Vandenack, KSL.com)


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WEST VALLEY CITY — A West Valley City proposal that once again highlights the growing pains that can accompany redevelopment has received a thumbs-up from city planning officials.

Vendors who use the 26.3-acre Redwood Swap Meet site, however, are crying foul, even if they don't own the land, which a developer wants to turn into a small subdivision containing 300 housing units.

The West Valley City Planning Commission voted 4-2 on Wednesday to recommend approval of a rezone and general plan update sought by EDGEHomes, a Draper-based developer. EDGEHomes wants to raze the drive-in theater on the property — which doubles on the weekends as a flea market — and build homes, but first needs the zoning and general plan changes so the proposal can move forward.

The property owner, Los Angeles-based De Anza Land and Leisure Corp., "has every right" to sell to EDGEHomes, said Cindy Wood, a planning commission member. She also alluded to the housing crunch impacting Utah. "Unfortunately, people need a place to live," said Wood, who voted to recommend the change.

Still, the crowd on hand at Wednesday's meeting — largely opposed to the development — shouted down the commissioners after the vote and a lawyer assisting them said they'll keep up the pressure. "It's life or death for some people. It's not a convenience," one woman shouted to planning commissioners from the audience.

Foes of the proposed redevelopment of the Redwood Swap Meet site crowded into the West Valley City Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, June 26, 2024.
Foes of the proposed redevelopment of the Redwood Swap Meet site crowded into the West Valley City Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (Photo: Tim Vandenack, KSL.com)

The swap meet, located at 3700 S. Redwood Road, is the livelihood for many of the vendors, some of them immigrants from Mexico, the rest of Latin America and other countries. To shutter the operation to make way for redevelopment, swap meet proponents say, would throw their lives into disarray.

West Valley lawyer Orlando Luna, representing the vendors, said the foes' fight isn't over. The proposal, with the planning commission recommendation, will now be considered by the West Valley City Council, which has the final say.

"Now they just need to address this with the City Council," Luna said, and air their concerns and opposition to the elected officials. The development foes feel they have been ignored, Luna said, noting 700 business operators sell goods at the swap meet and that it draws up to 7,000 visitors on some weekends.

The foes of the proposal spoke out at a public hearing on the issue two weeks ago and, as such, weren't allotted time at Wednesday's meeting to formally address commissioners. Still, they crowded into the council chambers, many of them holding signs during the meeting expressing their worries. The signs variously read "Stop the rezone," "Save the swap meet" and more.

Planning Commissioner Harold Woodruff voted against recommending approval of the needed changes, saying the proposal could be better. Still, he said a change in how the Redwood land is used is probably inevitable. "I think we all acknowledge that at some point this property is going to change into something else," he said.

Planning Commissioner Mathew Lovato, while cognizant of the need for space for a swap meet, said, "It's probably not on this land." He voted to recommend the zoning and general plan changes.

The 300 housing units, under the reworked EDGEHomes proposal, would consist of 244 townhomes, 40 condominiums and 16 single-family homes.

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Tim Vandenack covers immigration, multicultural issues and Northern Utah for KSL.com. He worked several years for the Standard-Examiner in Ogden and has lived and reported in Mexico, Chile and along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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