HOLLADAY — Holladay residents concerned about a new development planned for their city turned in their petition Thursday seeking a referendum that would put the project up for a vote, the Salt Lake County Clerk's office confirmed.
For Brett Stohlton, one of the organizers of the group Unite for Holladay, which collected signatures, the petition proved many Holladay residents' willingness to "contribute to the community."
In May, the Holladay City Council approved a proposal by Ivory Homes and Woodbury Corp. to build a mixed-use city center on the site of the old Cottonwood Mall, prompting Stohlton and others to start the petition.
The development plans include 775 apartments, with a maximum height of 90 feet, or seven stories. The plan also includes up to 210 total residential units, including 79 single-family homes, 22 units of brownstone-style homes, 39 units described as "Creekside Manor" homes, and up to 40 retail shops and restaurants.
Stohlton in June said the development would drop an uncharacteristically dense community in the heart of a "bedroom community that has more of a rural feel."
"It's been a lot of hard work over the last 45 days. Fortunately, we've had over 100 volunteers making great personal sacrifice to contribute to the community, to engage their neighbors and other residents of Holladay," Stohlton said Thursday.
"And it's fun at the end of that pathway to see an end result where we gathered close to 8,000 signatures from voters in Holladay, and that represents close to 50 percent of the voters in Holladay that participated in the last presidential election," he said.
The signature requirement is at least 35 percent of the people who voted in the last presidential election.
Stohlton said the group would continue to collect and turn in signatures until Friday, which is the deadline. They need 5,874 valid signatures. However, even if the county clerk's office certifies the required number, a referendum for the development still might not be put up to voters.
In June, attorneys for Ivory Homes said it had sent a cease-and-desist letter to groups petitioning against the development, alleging the groups made false representations about the project and gathered signatures outside polling locations, among other accusations.
Attorney Alan Sullivan, with the law firm Snell & Wilmer, said the issue wasn't eligible to be placed on the ballot because the City Council hadn't changed zoning laws to make way for the project.
But Holladay City Attorney Todd Godfrey said in June that if the petitioners turned in the required 5,874 valid signatures, the city would then review the referendum request.
If the council's decision to approve the project is considered administrative and not legislative, then the request would be rejected, he said. But the groups could still be able to appeal to the Utah Supreme Court on an emergency writ if they chose to pursue the case further, he added.
The developers on Thursday remained optimistic that their plans will move forward.
"We are hopeful to move forward with Holladay Quarter as soon as possible. We want what's best for Holladay and believe it's time for this property to become a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood with restaurants and shopping and a wonderful mix of housing," said Clark Ivory, chairman of Ivory Homes, and Jeff Woodbury, senior vice president of Woodbury Corp., in a joint prepared statement Thursday.
In a flyer discussing the project, the developers say their plans changed as they listened to input during public meetings, which prompted many residents to "ultimately express their support for the revised project."
Holladay Mayor Rob Dahle was unavailable Thursday evening but told the Deseret News in June it's well within residents' rights to circulate the petition.
But the mayor argued that the development plan, approved with a 6-0 vote, "struck a balance and a compromise" with the property owner and developer "that would make a positive addition to the city of Holladay for years to come."