Final vote on Leeds Grapevine Wash development stalled as public calls for review

Leeds Utah Welcome monument St. George News photo by Joyce Kuzmanic
Welcome monument, Leeds, Utah, June 19, 2012 | Photo by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News

UPDATED Dec. 14, 2012 to include a link to a PDF of the revised Grapevine Wash development agreement.

LEEDS – Despite a new batch of revisions made by the Leeds Town Council to the controversial and proposed Grapevine Wash development agreement, outcries from residents over public access to copies of the revisions resulted, last night in a Leeds Town Council meeting, in a final vote being tabled for another week.

Mayor Alan Roberts said the Town Council had made a series of amendments to the development agreement based on public input from the council’s Nov. 14 meeting.

“The changes have been made in response to (the people of Leeds),” council member Joe Allen said.

Concerning the revisions, council member Frank Lojko said that, throughout the agreement, “its (Leeds) ordinances (are) being enforced.”

In the past there had been worry among residents that the agreement swung too heavily in favor of the developers and had the power to supersede town ordinances.

Among the items amended in response to public comments were unit density, right of way and primary road access, and the development’s time table.

Unit density

“This is one of the most key changes,” Heath Snow, the town’s attorney, said. Per Roberts’s request, Snow read the changes made to the agreement.

Initially, Grapevine Wash proposed to build 2,500 units on 370 acres set between Leeds and Toquerville. It has long been the argument of some Leeds residents that the proposed density is too high and violates the agreement between the town and developers. The average unit density per acre in the agreement is supposed to be 3.8 units per acre. The 2,500 units would raise that number to over 6 units per acre. The revision the Town Council proposed limits the number of units on 370 acres to 1,403, or 3.8 units per acre.

The 2,500 units were included in the original proposed agreement by the developers on the possibility that public lands surrounding the project could be bought from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and annexed into Grapevine Wash sometime in the future.

Right of Way, primary road access, and traffic mitigation

Another point of concern for citizens of Leeds is roads connected with Grapevine Wash and the additional traffic the proposed development would create.

The Town Council clarified language in the agreement concerning right of way, and said the developer would not pursue right of way without the consent of property owners along 900 North – a proposed primary access point – or anywhere else in the town.

In past meetings, property owners expressed their fears that eminent domain would be used against them in order for the developer to obtain right of way access.

It is also now a condition of approval of any future subdivision plans in Grapevine Wash to have a designated primary access road that must have width of 66 feet or more. The cost of upgrading an existing road or creating a new one will be left in the hands of the developers.

Another revision not only affects the development, but the Town of Leeds as well. Should the population of Leeds reach a point where traffic threatens to overwhelm the current road system, building permits will be stalled community-wide until improvements are made.

Duration of the agreement

The proposed agreement between the town and the developer originally covered 35 years with a 15-year extension should the development continue to prove viable. Making for a total of 50 years, it is a length of time that bothers some council members and members of the community.

In the revised proposed agreement, the project’s duration is set at 25 years with the possibility of a 5-year extension provided certain requirements are met. According to the revisions, the developers must have a designated primary access road, installed underground utilities, and must have submitted a subdivision plan to the Town Council within the first 10 years. If the developers fail to do this, the agreement will be voided.

Calls for public review

After the revisions were read, Roberts called for a motion to vote on the agreement. However, repeated attempts to do so were interrupted by the public.

“We haven’t had a chance to review the changes,” Leeds resident Danielle Stirling said. Other residents also asked for the chance to review the revised documents.

“I can assure you the changes made have been made with the best interest of Leeds in mind,” Allen said.

Council member Nate Blake said, “I believe we’ve gone out of our way to address citizen concerns” and to meet those concerns within the development agreement before it is voted upon.

A motion was made by Blake to table a vote on the revised agreement until the next meeting on Jan. 9, 2013. He said it would allow the public enough time to review the agreement.

A vote on the January meeting failed. Instead, the Council voted to hold a special meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m. for a final vote on the agreement plan.

We can’t keep postponing,” Lojko said. “We have to put it to a vote.”

Roberts said the revisions would be made available on the Leeds website on Thursday, while Allen said he would email a copy to whoever wanted one.

Allen said the Grapevine Wash developers had threatened to sue the Town of Leeds over changes made to the proposed agreement, though nothing official has been filed yet.

Previous articles concerning Leeds and Grapevine Wash:

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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