Residents intent on limiting development in the Jordan River bottoms are gearing up to circulate an initiative petition they hope will halt the proposed RiverPark office complex south of 10600 South.
South Jordan resident Brent Foutz, a member of SOS (Save Open Space), submitted an application this week asking city officials to prepare an initiative petition for circulation.The initiative, if signed by 15 percent of the South Jordan residents who voted in the last election, is intended to force a public vote that SOS supporters believe will renounce past City Council decisions al-low-ing office development in the river bottoms.
SOS spokeswoman Janalee Tobias said her group wants city officials to allow the property to "revert back to the open space, recreational and agricultural uses for which it was originally master-planned."
She also charged that city officials had declined to accept the application Foutz submitted on behalf of himself and several other South Jordan residents.
City Manager Dave Millheim said the application hasn't been declined but has been referred to City Attorney Mike Mazuran for legal review.
"I wasn't sure what they were giving me and, because of litigation related to their referendum (request), we have turned the matter over to the attorney," he said.
"If it has been legally filed and everything is in order, I'm sure the city will let them go ahead with the petition," Millheim added. "We're studying the application right now and hope to let them know by the end of the week."
SOS also tried to circulate a referendum petition in February that sought to overturn a December council vote that gave developer Gerald Anderson a 120-day extension on the rezoning of the 85-acre project for office development.
That petition was rejected on the advice of Mazuran, who advised the city that Utah law does not permit referendums on individual zoning decisions.
SOS has appealed that finding to the Utah Supreme Court and obtained the services of an attorney to help them force a public vote.
Tobias said the group of residents remains committed to preserving the natural beauty of the area west of the Jordan River and south of 10600 South.
"They initiative would preclude any major development in the river bottoms," she said.
"If we don't do this, it will mean parking lots everywhere," Tobias said. "I don't care what they (city officials and developers) say, you can't disguise a parking lot.
"They've got to quit ignoring us and let us vote on this," she added. "Why are they afraid of a vote?"
Tobias said SOS is hoping the high court will order South Jordan to allow circulation of the referendum petition and will issue an injunction halting RiverPark development until all issues are resolved.
Millheim said the council and Mayor Dix McMullin "have put a lot of time and energy into addressing these issues" and will give fair consideration to the request to circulate an initiative petition.
"We have to respect the process," the city manager said, "and we're going to do that."
City Councilman Gary Chandler, who has been heavily involved in the RiverPark dispute since taking office in January, said the city also will continue to meet with SOS and discuss the group's concerns.
"But this is causing the city to spend quite a bit of money on legal fees," he said. "That's unfortunate. We're not a rich city."