BLUFFDALE City leaders in Bluffdale have put the brakes on paving the way for a commuter rail stop in their town.
At a recent public meeting the City Council voted 3-2 against changing a zoning ordinance that would have allowed the Utah Transit Authority to build a FrontRunner station and parking lot on 14600 South in the city.
The council had been considering lifting the city's two-acre limit on public use facilities to accommodate UTA which requires between 10-15 acres for a rail stop and parking lot but to the chagrin of Bluffdale Mayor Claudia Anderson, a majority of the council decided the change would compromise the rural nature of the town.
"I was so disappointed with the council's vote," Anderson said. "I hope the (state) legislators won't let us make such a big mistake. ... I just hope they'll take charge and tell three people that they can't change the destiny of the whole city without at least a vote of the people."
Anderson strongly encouraged the council to vote in favor of the change, saying that denying the change was "a slap in the face to all of the people in concern ... that would put us behind the eight ball for ever asking for money again."
Anderson speculated that legislators might intervene during this legislative session and override the council, and she wasn't the only in the city with the same suspicions. Councilwoman Nancy Lord, who voted against the change, is also waiting to see what will happen.
"I hope that UTA and the League of Cities and Towns will understand that my primary responsibility is to represent my constituents," Lord said. "I have really tried to make a good-faith effort to think how I could say yes to this, and I just can't."
Councilmen Troy Chisolm and Bill Maxwell also voted against the change. Councilmen Rod Flanigan and Bruce Kartchner said most Bluffdale residents want the stop.
UTA had previously favored building a stop along Bangerter Highway in Draper as part of its southern Provo-to-Salt Lake FrontRunner line that runs along the west side of Salt Lake County.
However, right-of-way constraints at the Draper site would cost UTA millions of dollars to build a pedestrian walkway and elevator that goes up and over the track.
Thus, the transportation authority began reconsidering building a stop in Bluffdale. UTA spokeswoman Carrie Bohnsack-Ware said the council's vote Tuesday wasn't necessarily a deal breaker, but the agency is still considering all of its options.
"We haven't decided anything at this point," Bohnsack-Ware said. "We are unable to speculate right now as to what may happen."
UTA FrontRunner project manager Steve Meyer said if the agency cannot build a station in Bluffdale, the Draper station will be considered a "future station" that wouldn't be built until the rest of the line is completed in 2015. The next closest stop to the Draper/Bluffdale area would be at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi or at 10600 South in South Jordan, Meyer said.
Although one or two people at the meeting spoke in favor of the stop, about a dozen residents spoke against building the station in Bluffdale because of the impact it would have on the community."It's a big deal for us to see this big of a change coming," said resident Connie Jones. "This, to me, just seems like not the kind of thing that ought to be a part of Bluffdale."