Judy Feld moved to South Jordan three years ago to get away from the traffic and urban sprawl in Taylorsville.
"We moved here for the open space and to get away from the city," she said. "Now everything's going to change."In a meeting Saturday afternoon, the South Jordan City Council unanimously approved a controversial plan to build an office complex on an 86-acre site in the Jordan River bottoms.
The meeting was packed with about 40 residents - many holding signs in protest of the RiverPark project and anxious to speak out against the plan. No one got the chance. By 5:20 p.m., the council had voted and left the room.
The project will not only ruin the environment in the river bottoms, it will attract other massive development projects to South Jordan, said Feld, who founded a group, Save Open Space, to oppose the project. She says she believes it will only take a few projects of this size to cause South Jordan to grow too quickly, taking away its small-town atmosphere.
The council's goal is to increase the city's tax base, Feld said, and that's why it approved the project.
The council doesn't care what the residents want, she said, and the fact that the members didn't allow anyone to speak at the meeting is proof of that.
The council has already heard the public's concerns and met several times with anti-development groups, said Councilman Thomas Christensen after the meeting. It's been debated for a year, and it's time to go ahead with "the next step."
"I've gotten calls from people who support it," he said. "It's been a year, and it's time to go ahead."
Christensen isn't sure when building will begin. The project will add jobs and help South Jordan's economy, Christensen said.
But some residents plan to continue the fight despite two court setbacks in recent weeks. SOS temporarily derailed the project two weeks ago when it obtained a temporary restraining order preventing the City Council from granting a conditional use permit. But at a subsequent court hearing, the group failed to get the restraining order made permanent by 3rd District Judge Homer Wilkinson, who said the city had followed proper procedure in posting notice of the intended action.
Aleta Taylor said she will do whatever she can to stop the project. Her home is located a few yards from the construction site, and she said a huge office building is the last thing she wants.
"I wouldn't (have) built my house there if I would've known about this," she said. "(The council) is trading the environment and the wildlife for a fast buck. I saw seven deer down there just the other day."
Those who don't want the project have hope. The Utah Supreme Court has heard arguments on a referendum dispute between the council and SOS. The organization says the council illegally refused to allow a referendum on the RiverPark project.
The court has yet to rule on the issue. It could order the council to put the measure on the ballot, allowing residents to determine the project's fate.