Deseret Morning News Archives

"In November 2004, Sandy City adopted Ordinance No. 04-45 governing land uses at the 'Gravel Pit' (approximately 1000 East and 9400 South). The stated purpose of the ordinance is to provide for master-planned mixed use development to act as a cohesive development combining retail, commercial, higher density residential, office and public uses as specified in the ordinance, under a master plan and standards which encourage integration of uses and appropriate transition to abutting zones.

"Shall Ordinance No. 04-45 be approved?"

Good gracious. Have you ever read such government gobbledygook?

Absent a change, this will be the wording of a referendum that Sandy residents will see when they go to the polls on Nov. 8 to resolve a divisive land-use issue in their city. They also will select city leaders.

It's understood that drafters of referenda need to dot their "I's" and cross their "T's," legally speaking. After the months-long battle among the grass-roots organization Save Our Communities, Sandy city and developer The Boyer Co., voters deserve a succinct referendum. How about something that balances the legalese with some plain speak?

As it stands, voters run the risk of either falling asleep in the voting booth or becoming hopelessly confused. Neither is an optimal condition on Election Day.

While an admitted oversimplification, the issue basically boils down to this: "Should the gravel pit become a mixed-use development?" or "Should the gravel pit become a park?"

People who have a dog in this fight are, undoubtedly, well versed on the language of this referendum. A "yes" vote would permit a zoning change that would allow a Boyer Co. development with a Wal-Mart and a Lowe's Home Improvement store on the 107-acre site. A "no" vote would prohibit the zoning change.

Our concern is for voters who go to the polls Nov. 8 to choose a mayor and city council. They may be caught flat-footed with a referendum that asks them whether they should approve Ordinance 04-45. Will they understand what that means?

Save Our Communities wants the Utah Supreme Court to take yet another look at the issue. Earlier this summer the court ruled that Sandy must hold a referendum on the proposed zoning change, to the objections of Sandy city and The Boyer Co. The latter sought a rehearing of the case, but the court has not yet responded.

It's August. The court has enough time left to review this one more time. In the interest of clarity and good government, we hope the Utah Supreme Court will review this language and take appropriate action.