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West Jordan Journal

West Jordan Approves Controversial Gardner Village Development

Aug 06, 2015 10:13AM ● By Bryan Scott

Ground will break on the construction of a 224-unit apartment complex near the historic Gardner Village area in the coming months.

By Taylor Stevens

West Jordan - After over a year of back and forth, the West Jordan City Council approved a ratified plan of the controversial 224-unit apartment complex development at 1206 West 7800 South at Gardner Village. 

Councilmembers Hansen, McConnehey, Nichols and Southworth voted to approve the proposal at the city’s June 10 city council meeting. Mayor Rolfe and Councilmember Haaga voted in opposition. Councilmember Rice was absent.

The council previously rejected the proposal in April 2014 because of inconsistency with the historical site and the council’s transit-oriented vision for the area, as well as resident concerns about high-density development. 

In late April, the developer—Colosimo Brothers Development—said they were prepared to file a lawsuit against the city. Joe Colosimo’s lawyer, Bruce Baird, was quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune, saying that the council’s decision was “arbitrary, capricious and illegal.” They argued that the development met all the city’s legal qualifications and should not be blocked.

After Colosimo filed the suit, he acquired additional property and added 48 units to the plan—increasing the density of the area and exacerbating one of the main concerns with the development among residents. 

When the development came back to the city council in October, the city and the developer agreed that the court case would be dismissed if the proposal was approved, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. 

According to city documents, Colosimo also helped revise the plan, making it more transit oriented, “increasing walkability and pedestrian connectivity, integrating a mixed-use element and a commercial element” and “enhancing the relationship with Gardner Village” by integrating “the historic fabric” of the area. The new plan also lowered building heights and increased retail opportunities.

The new plan swayed enough councilmembers who had previously voted against the development to pass the ratified plan. Southworth, who had previously voted against the development, said at the council meeting that he felt the plan had improved greatly since it was first brought before the council.

 “They wanted to build a TOD [Transit Oriented Development] … they didn’t do that. All they did was took a normal apartment complex and stick it next to a TRAX station and called it TOD. That doesn’t count,” Southworth said. “You need to add in commercial aspects to it, you need to make it walkable and have better access to the transit section … and more importantly, they needed to bring the essence of Gardner Village into this project, and they did it. So, that’s why I changed my mind.”

Although the development garnered enough support to pass, some residents at the meeting were still not convinced. Jay Thomas, a West Jordan resident, voiced his concerns during the public hearing that the development would create additional traffic and that the area lacked parking, a concern echoed later by McConnehey as well. 

To address traffic and safety concerns, the approved plan requires the developer to work with UTA to create a pedestrian bridge across 7800 South, as well as create additional traffic lanes to mitigate the expected increase in transportation.   

Although the changes to the development addressed traffic concerns, the high-density aspect of the plan remains.

“Our residents have been screaming ‘No more high density,’ and to add 48 units would not be appropriate, in my opinion, at this location,” Rolfe said, explaining his decision to vote against the proposal. 

 Haaga agreed with Rolfe and the residents who spoke against the development during the public hearing. 

“This has been an emotional issue for the residents for quite a while,” Haaga said at the meeting. He said the developers had worn down the residents and that the fundamental design of the development had not changed.
“Why we’re giving these developers another 48 units is beyond me,” he said, “other than they can do it and they have the votes, I guess, up here.”