County Councilman's Support of Developer Raises Questions

County Councilman's Support of Developer Raises Questions

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Richard Piatt ReportingThe relationship between a Utah developer and a Salt Lake County councilman is raising eyebrows in Davis County.

Randy Horiuchi admits he actively promoted a development in Kaysville on behalf of Wasatch Pacific Developers. That’s the same company the commissioner helped secure zoning variances for a Little Cottonwood Canyon road.

Randy Horiuchi/Salt Lake County Council: "When I have an opinion about something, I’m free to share it, and I do so."

Randy Horiuchi isn't shy about using his position and experience to get things done.

After a dozen years on the Salt Lake County commission, and now council, he's played a key role in developments that have literally changed the landscape in Utah.

But this particular change in landscape has his critics fuming -- a mountainside road he helped lobby for, requested by a developer and friend, that needs three zoning variances that were recently approved.

In particular, 'Save Our Canyons' is speaking out on his involvement in the process.

Tom Stephens/Save Our Canyons: "He absolutely did commit a wrong, at least from our perspective, from an ethical standpoint, by privately lobbying board of adjustment members. "

Horiuchi lobbied for the same developer, Wasatch Pacific, for a proposed housing addition on this property in Kaysville. That ruffled the feathers of skeptics of the development West of I-15, who openly wonder 'what's in it for him?'

Development is a hot topic in Kaysville these days. Kaysville City council members say Horiuchi bought them lunch to talk about zoning options for the development.

Nathan Pace/Kaysville City Council: "It seems he had a part of being an integral part of being a front person for that. And I don't know if there was a financial involvement or not; it was never brought up."

In fact, in each case, Horiuchi insists he has no financial stake in the development. He does admit though that Developer Terry Diehl is a good friend.

Randy Horiuchi/Salt Lake County Council: "I received no compensation for my involvement. They asked me to go up, appear before the council and I did so."

Horiuchi also points out he has no decision-making power in either case.

Still, the questions of conflict were enough for the Salt Lake County District Attorney's office to draft 'Standards of Conduct' for certain county decision-makers created at the request of 'Save Our Canyons'.

Approval of that document is pending.

So as of now, critics have only the appearance of conflicts of interest -- a common gripe in a state with elected, part-time officials.

Alan Dayton/Salt Lake Co. Deputy Mayor: "The price of a citizens’ legislature is you have people who work part time. If we want to change that, if we want to go to a full time legislature, we can do that but it's a lot more expensive."

We should point out that two county council members also lobbied decision-makers, opposing the road.

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