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South Salt Lake • City Council members spent more than 90 minutes debating the future of the old Granite High School property after Mayor Cherie Wood's veto of a council-approved proposal to develop the property. But they ended Monday's meeting without attempting an override vote.
The failure to act came after lengthy discussion among the council, the mayor, developers and representatives from Granite School District.
The council of seven representatives would have needed a supermajority of at least five votes to override the mayor's veto of a plan by Garbett Homes and Wasatch Property to build 78 homes and a Wal-Mart grocery store on the property.
More than 100 city residents attended the meeting, which did not include time for public comment. That didn't stop the crowd from breaking into applause at several points during the meeting, including when Wood called plans for a new Wal-Mart in the development a "deal breaker."
A spokesman for Garbett Homes said the developers thought they would have the votes for an override and were surprised when the meeting ended without a motion. The deal now is dead and there is no plan to extend the $10.6 million contract with Granite School District, owner of the property, before it expires Friday, said Scott Howell, of Garbett Homes.
"Can't make it close financially, just cannot do it" without the Wal-Mart, said Howell.
"Eighty young families will be denied homeownership in South Salt Lake because of a prejudice against Wal-Mart" by a small number of residents, said Howell. "And it's not a Wal-Mart, it's the Wal-Mart market, the grocery store." Wood would not meet with developers despite repeated attempts, said Howell.
In several previous meetings, residents have consistently opposed the idea of a Wal-Mart, objecting to big-box stores being built on the 13-acre property on 3300 South just east of 500 East, and talking about the city's need for more green space.
The plans presented Monday included specifics on four acres of dedicated park space on the property, nearly 80 residential units and a grocery store. Presenters also discussed data from a traffic study, details on how to preserve the school's history in the park and how the school district would work out a bond deal with the city to buy three of the four acres for open space.
Developers and representatives tried to address concerns laid out in Wood's explanation of her veto, even going as far as bringing an artist's rendition of what the site would look like.
But Wood and the residents in attendance did not seem satisfied. The mayor said residents want local businesses, not big-box retailers, taking up the space. Developers countered that the site wouldn't work for small businesses.
"I think that we have moved the needle within this last two weeks since the veto was published," Wood said when asked by council members how she felt about the issue of funding for open space, but she didn't feel the issues were completely resolved.
Council members also differed on their level of comfort with the project. Council Chairwoman Debbie Snow said the explanation she heard satisfied her in regards to how the green space would be financed, while council member Sharla Beverly said she was "not comfortable."
After the presentations and questioning from council members concluded, Snow called for a motion, but none was forthcoming.
The meeting then adjourned without further discussion and with no indication of when the issue might be brought up again.
Dan Harrie contributed to this report