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Wohali Developers Submit Second Application

Ken Lund on Flickr

The applicants for the  Wohali development near Coalville have submitted a second plan, for a smaller-scale project, as an alternative to the concept approved by Coalville City Council last month.

That comes while it’s looking like a Coalville citizens campaign will get the necessary signatures to put the large Wohali proposal to a  vote.

The Coalville City Council in December approved a plan for Wohali, in the hills west of Interstate 80, including 570 single-family residences and 130 nightly rentals.

But soon after, the group Coalville For Responsible Growth started a referendum drive to put it on the ballot.    They will need 300 signatures by the end of February to put it to a June 30th vote.

By Wednesday, their website indicated they have 218 signatures.

Coalville Mayor Trevor Johnson said that in mid-January, applicants Dave and Jim Boyden submitted a second plan that can be built as a Permitted Use.

The plan would be located on 1664 acres.    The land’s base density would be a little over 83 units.   But with a density bonus for additional open space, it would have 125 single-family units.   The proposal also includes 303 nightly rentals.

The plan still includes an 18-hole golf course and other recreational amenities.    The Mayor said with development clustered, it would have nearly 70.5 percent open space.

As a Permitted Use, the city would be called upon to supply water, but the developers have the obligation to build the connecting infrastructure.

The Mayor said from what he’s heard from City Attorney Sheldon Smith, Wohali can legally submit two simultaneous plans for the same property.    But the city can still decide, as policy, if they want to accept that.      

“It’s not illegal to turn in two applications, for whatever—If it was illegal, we would just write it off, right off the bat—say, “No, can’t do that, have to have one.”   But it can be part of our ordinance, or part of our best practices, to only accept one.   Now that choice is up to the discretion of the Council.   Or it might even be up to my discretion.  I don’t know.   I have to have another conversation with Sheldon about it.  That’s not a really big deal to me.  I don’t see why it’s a big problem to have two permits.   And it has to be in my mind something that would be across the board, not just applied to one developer.”

He said the applicants didn’t say much about why they submitted the new application.       

“The only comment they made, and I don’t know, this is fluid and could change, was that they’re putting this in, in case the referendum is successful.”

On January 27th, the city hosted a Town Hall at the Ledges Event Center.   Some 40 to 50 people turned out, and Mayor Johnson said he wished they had attracted a larger crowd.    

“I’m very thankful for the people that came out, and appreciate the effort that they’ve put in to be a part of the process and be informed.    I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that we didn’t have a full crowd and a full house to be able to really dive down into the details of not only the development process in general, but also specifically the Wohali, and how that process behind the scenes it looks, and how it’s handled and the things that are taken into consideration that maybe a lot of people don’t know.”

He said that negotiations might be possible with the applicants.   He added they hosted the Town Hall to address the information gap about the project.   For one thing, he thinks many citizens have the mistaken impression that if the referendum succeeds, there will be no development at all on Wohali.       

“I think if people understood that there is a Permitted Use process, and in that process there’s a lot less negotiating, a lot less benefit to the city, that there might be an appetite for a middle ground.   I think the core group, the I Love Coalville group, I think they would certainly entertain a negotiating of some sort of density.  What I don’t have a lot of confidence is, that they will go out and express that, or I guess pitch that to the rest of their followers, if you will.”

The Mayor said he’s avoided discussions of what tax revenue might be generated by Wohali and how the city might spend it.   One reason is that they shouldn’t count their chickens before they hatch, when revenue could be many years away.

Another reason, he said, is perception.      

“I don’t want the perception that we’re doing this for money, that we all have our dollar signs in our eyes and can’t wait to just green-light everything through.”

Coalville Mayor Trevor Johnson, who urged his constituents to turn out for future Town Halls and Planning Commission sessions on Wohali.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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