SALT LAKE CITY — A recent decision by the Draper City Council to restrict mining within city limits left Geneva Rock officials feeling cheated and confused.
But the gravel mining operator insists that despite the ordinance, it is going nowhere.
"We will continue mining. We will continue producing sand and gravel and concrete and asphalt," Geneva spokesman Dave Kallas said last week. "And when mining has completed on our property, we will continue to import material from elsewhere. We're not leaving."
Citing residents' and businesses' concerns, Draper City Council voted unanimously last month to restrict future expansion of mining operations within city limits.
The decision came after a September council meeting to discuss Geneva Rock's request to rezone some of its property to allow mining and extraction. Hundreds of residents had voiced opposition to any expanded mining operations as officials considered a rezoning request from Geneva Rock.
When the company shared a modified proposal asking for 18.5 acres to be rezoned instead of 73 acres, Mayor Troy Walker told Geneva officials to start the application process over with the new proposal, saying it was a completely new and a "significant change" to the original.
But Kallas said the council rushed to make a decision to restrict mining Oct. 30 while the company was still preparing to resubmit its application.
"It was upsetting that they hurried and did that before we had time to submit our application," he said.
Not only was Kallas upset and confused that the council made the decision shortly after asking the company to reapply, but he said it will negatively impact Lehi more than anything.
Geneva planned to restore the high wall — the open, dugout, terraced face of the mountain visible from I-15 in Lehi — to a more natural look in a few years when the company finishes working there. But Kallas said the project would require some digging from the Draper side of the mountain in order to lower the pitch of the high wall and move earth around to create a more natural look.
"Because of the City Council's decision, that high wall will be there forever," Kallas said, "unless they're willing to change the zoning."
Kallas said the council gave Geneva an overall positive response when it initially proposed expanding on 73 acres, and then the company changed its proposal on its own accord after hearing some residents' concerns.
The Oct. 30 vote initiated a monthslong process of amending the city code, and council members said it would not affect the established legal rights of any current mining operations.
The company cannot submit its new, modified request now because of the council's decision.
The mayor said it would have been a conflict if Geneva had an application pending at the time of the vote, and that it can petition the council during public meetings to not finalize the proposal.
The council's proposal will go through a public, multistep vetting process before the code changes, which Walker said he expects will get back to the City Council for its final vote sometime in 2019.
The proposal will first go to the city's planning commission, which will hold a public hearing and take comments on the proposed amendments. The commission will send its recommendations to the council, then there will be another opportunity for public comments.
Walker said Geneva Rock and any other person, company or group in the city can voice concerns with the proposed changes at these public meetings.28 comments on this story
"We definitely intend to participate in the public process," Kallas said. "We'll be there, and we hope those who support Geneva and support our industry and the folks who depend on our material will participate as well."
Dates and times of these public meetings will be announced on the city's website.
Kallas said the company can always go back to request mining to be allowed again if the change does go into effect. Either way, the company can still continue its current operations.