A preview of a controversial plan to build the RiverPark office complex got a "thumbs up" review from all five South Jordan planning commissioners Wednesday night.
Following a 90-minute public hearing, the Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend City Council approval of the conditional use permit and conceptual site plan for the project.That clears the way for developer Gerald Anderson to take the plans for his 85-acre project to the council April 7 for final approval of the permit, site plan and master development agreement.
Construction on the first of several office buildings planned over the next eight years at RiverPark, located west of the Jordan River and south of 10600 south, should get under way this summer.
Included in the project is the development of River Road, with two lanes in each direction and a center turn median, from 10600 South to a city-owned park south of Anderson's property.
A traffic study indicated the road may eventually handle between 13,000 and 19,000 vehicle trips daily as RiverPark and surrounding areas are developed.
The vote was also a major setback for a loose-knit coalition of residents intent on blocking the RiverPark project.
Members and supporters of Save Open Space (SOS) again decried the project, saying it would destroy the pristine nature of the river bottoms and deteriorate the quality of air, water and life.
They also criticized the site plan as too sketchy and said it fails to provide enough information about the size and location of individual buildings or the project's impact.
But commissioners said their job was to ensure the project complies with city ordinances, not tinker with previous decisions that led to the rezoning of the area.
The commission's recommendation is advisory only, but it carries considerable weight with the council, which must now make the final decision on a master development agreement that will spell out more of the specific project details.
Thomas Ellison, an attorney for Anderson, said the project would be an economic boon to South Jordan as sites are sold off and developed by individual buyers.
"We don't know exactly where the buildings will go," he said, and what each building finally looks like will be determined by the companies or people who build them.
"But there'll be a uniform feeling of high quality" throughout, Ellison assured the council.
He also indicated the project eventually may generate $6.2 million in impact fees, $2.8 million in development fees for the city, a quarter of a million dollars a year in property taxes, $32,000 annually in business license fees and anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million a year in sales taxes.
South Jordan resident Judy Feld, a founding member of SOS, urged city officials to be skeptical and check Ellison's figures before taking action on the project.
She also charged the city "made up its mind a long time ago" Anderson's RiverPark and Sterling Village projects "would be a go" regardless of how they affected local residents.
But several people spoke in favor of the project, including former city councilman Jack Peck, also a trustee of the Provo Jordan River Parkway Association.
He said the RiverPark project, will help ensure the integrity of the river corridor while providing a "much-needed tax base to improve our roads, strengthen our police and fire protection" and ensure a better quality of life.
Boyd Williams, who owns a key piece of land Anderson has been negotiating to buy, said after the meeting that SOS has "interfered with the sale of our property" and has cost him a lot of money with obstructionist tactics.
He said SOS has been "so contrary and unreasonable" that neither he nor his family would ever sell the land to the group or anyone connected with it.