This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Geneva Rock has formally withdrawn its application with Draper City to rezone a portion of its property located at the Point of the Mountain from an A-5 (agricultural) zone to an M-2 (manufacturing) zone that would have allowed an expansion of its gravel operations.
The Public Hearing which was originally scheduled for November 10th has been cancelled. The Draper Mayor and City Council shared many of the concerns that were raised by Draper residents regarding this rezone. Councilman Bill Colbert said he recognized that there were unresolved issues with the application.
If Geneva Rock decides to submit a new application to rezone its property in the future, the application would have to go through the public hearing process before the Draper Planning Commission and the Draper City Council.
Tense exchanges between residents and local leaders at two recent city meetings have left a bad taste in the mouths of people concerned with a plan to rezone 189 acres and allow expansion of an existing gravel pit at Point of the Mountain.
The rezoning request from Geneva Rock drew dozens of people to a Sept. 10 planning commission meeting. Most who spoke opposed the proposal, but those in favor insisted on some kind of mitigation to address concerns, including disruption of a flight park, popular among hang gliders and paragliders, degradation of the view of the hillside and health concerns over airborne silica dust.
Several residents moved to the area to live near the flight park, but one said the health effects from the mines' unsettled dust caused him and his family to decide they had to move back to New York.
"Construction workers are required to wear breathers when they work with silica. Salt Lake and Utah County residents are not," said Ryan Voight. "It has gotten to a point where it's too much."
Commission Chairman Drew Gilliland warned people against outbursts or clapping during the meeting, and he threatened to have people removed for unruly behavior. The panel closed the public-comment portion of the meeting and refused to reopen it after the commission's discussion with Brent Sumsion, who represents Geneva Rock.
An audience member called out, "We've got answers for you, but you guys keep shutting them down."
Gilliland responded: "Yeah, because we're done with that part. Okay? ... And again, sir, do you want to be asked to leave? Do we need to get up and clear the room?"
In the end, the recommendation to rezone the area from agricultural to manufacturing passed 3-2, with Commissioner Jeff Head pausing several seconds before voting yes. The rezoning was recommended on condition that information be provided to the City Council addressing concerns about the integrity of the flight park, the aesthetic view of the mountainside and health/environmental issues.
City planners acknowledged "real concerns" about continued mining destroying the flight park by disrupting wind patterns on the mountain. But, they said in recommending approval of the rezoning, "As a way to combat that potential problem, [Geneva Rock] has agreed to enter into an agreement with the city that it will preserve and conserve the north ridge that faces the Salt Lake Valley."
Nearly 30 residents attended a subsequent Sept. 15 City Council meeting, planning to request a town hall meeting on the matter.
"We want to know about the asbestos-like silica dust that blows into our neighborhood," resident Amy Allen said in an email to The Salt Lake Tribune, explaining residents' concerns. "What the mine is doing to contain it, like how much water their well is using and will use in the future? What about future lawsuits to the city for health issues of residents? How much of the skyline will disappear? What about businesses moving to the area?"
Allen and the others didn't get any answers at the council meeting.
Mayor Troy Walker refused to allow the residents to speak about the issue, noting that a public hearing would be scheduled, though City Manager David Dobbins said his best guess for scheduling would be sometime in "late October, early November."
Several people, including Allen and Adrian Dybwad, still attempted to speak but were cut off by the mayor.
"Please sit down if that's your comment," Walker told Dybwad, again referring to an opportunity to speak at a future meeting.
Dybwad said he was "shocked" after the mayor interrupted him, noting that whether or not the issue was on the agenda, he should be able to have his say during the open public-comment portion of the meeting.
"I'm not trying to cut off public comment," Walker said to the audience, citing the large agenda and the need to move to the next item of business.
City Attorney Mike Barker supported the mayor's decision to hold off on public comment.
"There's a lot of people out there that want to weigh in on this and may not even know that it's up for discussion, and they deserve to hear the public feedback as much as you do," Barker said. "While I understand it's prickly and I understand that it's difficult for people to appreciate, it's really the right thing to do."