Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
CEDAR HILLS, Utah (AP) -- Smith's Food & Drug has dropped its plans for a store in Cedar Hills, and the mayor puts the blame on a group opposing beer sales and Sunday business.
"It's a crying shame," Mayor Mike McGee said. "A very few vocal people, not even the majority by a long way, made the decision for the entire city by the threats and silliness that they went through. The persecution of Smith's or anyone else that wants to exercise their rights to do business is wrong."
Smith's would have been the first supermarket in the community. Residents do their shopping in Highland, Pleasant Grove and American Fork.
The Coalition To Preserve Cedar Hills was formed two months ago after the City Council voted down proposals to ban beer and Sunday operations.
Coalition members circulated a petition to get the issues on the ballot.
Gary Duncan, coalition chairman, said the group's purpose was not to drive out Smith's, but rather to set business standards that the majority of the community wants. The coalition encouraged members to contact Smith's and tell them they were opposed to alcohol and Sunday sales.
"We are not claiming blame or credit for this," Duncan said. "Our priorities are about the environment of the community, and if that delays commercial coming into town then we are OK with that."
The controversy was an issue, but not the deciding issue in Smith's decision, spokeswoman Marsha Gilford, said Tuesday.
"We have decided to move forward on some other projects that preclude us from building a store in Cedar Hills," she said. "We are leaving the door open in Cedar Hills, but for the foreseeable future we are redirecting our energies to these other projects."
Smith's had a preliminary agreement with a developer Rimrock LLC. Rimrock plans on buying an 18-acre site in Cedar Hills once there are business owners who are interested.
Mark Hampton, Rimrock's owner, said Smith's was in the "due diligence" period and they had the right to pull out of the deal. He said he was not given a specific reason for why company officials changed their minds, and he said he hopes he can find another major retailer to come to Cedar Hills.
Hampton believes the planned development needs a major anchor tenant like Smith's to be able to attract other businesses.
"I don't know who it will be, but we will continue to look for businesses," Hampton said.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)