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Proposal could change the way Big Cottonwood Canyon develops



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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS -- Is it prudent planning, or simply opening the door to a whole different kind of development in Big Cottonwood Canyon? That question comes as the city of Cottonwood Heights considers a land use ordinance that could affect the way the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon develops.

Several areas of Cottonwood Heights that have development potential would be influenced by the city's land use ordinance.

But city planner Michael Black says the area likely to be affected first is the stalled Tavaci development, located at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Black says the city is at the front end of future land use questions.

"We're looking out to the future and saying, ‘Should it change? And if it were to change, what change would be the best for the city, the users, the property owners are concerned?' Black says.

Originally zoned for single-family homes, the Cottonwood Heights land use ordinance could open the door to condos, high-end hotel and retail space and restaurants. The guidelines are in the very early stages right now and are subject to intense scrutiny by the public and city council.

But groups like Save Our Canyons are watching closely. Save Our Canyons fought the original land rezoning and development of this road in court, but lost.

Allowing high-density projects here would "widen the scar on the mountainside," according to Jennifer Kecor, who is with Save Our Canyons.

"We just think that it would expand further development where maybe development isn't warranted. You know, expanding that scar," Kecor says.

Tavaci developer Terry Diehl says the city is pursuing this land use ordinance independently; Black confirmed that, acknowledging the tough fight Diehl endured to get the road built.

For the city, though, it's all about economic development in the future.

"Our general plan gives us a goal and objective to look at this area with an eye toward economic development, specifically with the ski industry," Black says.

The first draft of the land use ordinance will be unveiled to the public at Tuesday night's city council meeting at Cottonwood Heights. The begins at 7 p.m. at the Cottonwood Heights City Council Chamber, located at 1265 E. Fort Union Blvd.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

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Richard Piatt

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