DRAPER SunCrest residents have extended an open invitation to any valley resident troubled by their development to visit the mountaintop community and see for themselves its variety, wildlife and community market.
Visitors heading about 4 miles east on Traverse Ridge Road (14750 South) are certain to notice the view at 6,000 feet, SunCrest overlooks both Salt Lake and Utah valleys. They may also notice a dirty black-orange layer of smog overhanging the valleys and a few tar patches and cracks on the newly built roads.
Hopefully, visitors will also notice the difference between South Mountain and SunCrest, residents said.
"We're on this upper bench," said SunCrest homeowners association member Barbara Blackmer, explaining that her neighborhood doesn't destroy the mountainside. "There are staggeringly beautiful mountains all around us."
Prior to the construction of SunCrest homes, the area was private property used for hunting and snowmobiling, said Paul Tonks, leader of the grass-roots group SunCrestResidents.org. Hang gliding which still takes place and the historic widowmaker motorbike race took place down the hill on South Mountain.
SunCrest still features plenty of wildlife, said Scott Blackmer, who regularly sees deer, foxes and raccoons in his backyard. Wildlife migration corridors were required to be left untouched by the SunCrest master plan.
While breathing the clean air in the neighborhood, visitors to SunCrest will notice massive "McMansion" custom-built homes, enclaves containing small retirement homes, condominium buildings and medium-sized family homes.
All residents, no matter their income level, have to cope with bad weather, constant wind and a lack of school buses.
"When people choose to live here, there are some sacrifices that are involved," said SunCrest resident John Davis. "It really creates a sense of passion for where we live."
Residents have risen to meet the challenges by organizing SunCrestResidents.org, which works to provide information to all residents. Each enclave is represented in the group, said one of its leaders, DeLaina Tonks, who also leads Draper's Youth Council Advisory Board.
Neighbors also team up for things such as snow removal, said Paul Tonks. During one particularly bad storm this winter, a 12-man "snowblower brigade" cleared the streets when city plows were unable to reach the neighborhood.
The community is also making headway in improving relations with Draper, said Scott Blackmer. The current City Council is interested in SunCrest issues and development tensions were eased by the approval of a geologic hazards ordinance that both clarified the building process for developers and protected homeowners from risky purchases.
However, the community still faces significant challenges. Terrabrook recently defaulted on $58 million in development loans and may pull out of the state. Its offices are still open, but its management has refused to comment on the situation.
Signs saying Zions Bank is the financier of the development dot the neighborhood.
Terrabrook owns the popular market and also a community clubhouse, which is mostly completed but has yet to be opened.
Residents in the area expected the clubhouse to be opened a year ago and don't know what could happen if a new developer purchases the building. They are also concerned about homeowner's association fees, but home values are not likely to change, said Paul Tonks.
Neither the environmental nor the developer issues discourage residents."This is an opportunity for metropolitan people really to live in a mountain-type community and still be part of the Salt Lake area," Paul Tonks said.