The Utah Supreme Court accomplished a rare feat this week. It handed down a decision that was a win-win for the plaintiffs and the defendants.
We refer to the new language for the referendum on Sandy's gravel pit, which is located at about 1000 East and 9400 South. The court rewrote a referendum that was factually accurate but potentially confusing to voters. Opponents charged that the wording was biased.
Now, opponents say they like the language of the Supreme Court's 64-word referendum. Meanwhile, the city is in a position where it won't have to respond to allegations that its choice of words was slanted. Now voters will decide based on the court's wording.
Essentially, voters will decide whether to keep a zoning change approved as an ordinance by the Sandy City Council in November 2004 . That zoning designation would permit "big box" retail establishments as part of mixed-use zoning at the 107-acre site. If the referendum fails, the zoning would return to a designation that allows very specific land uses but expressly prohibits home-improvement stores, grocery stores and discount stores, among others.
Few matters inflame civic passions more than do zoning disputes. This one is no exception, with allegations that at times have been tinged with wildness flying through the air. Opponents to the zoning change have charged city officials with breaking promises. Some in the city, meanwhile, lament having gone through a long rezoning process only to face the possibility of having it all wiped out by a popular vote.
With the matter of the referendum language behind proponents and opponents, both sides owe it to Sandy residents to conduct factual and intellectually honest debate on the referendum. Sandy residents need to go straight to the respective parties, Sandy City, the developer (The Boyer Co.), and the referendum's opponent, the grassroots organization Save Our Communities, to hear their respective points of view. We encourage voters to keep up on the issue by reading this newspaper, as well.
After all of the clashing over this divisive land-use issue, it would be a shame if voters didn't take the time to fully understand the ramifications of their vote.
Sandy voters are urged to get informed, then vote on Nov. 8.