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Draper Residents Say They Were Misled About Open Space

Whittney Evans
View from the home of Leigh and Johne Brennan where a housing development is planned.

The Draper City Council is poised to vote Tuesday on whether to approve the sale of land for a new housing development. Residents are threatening to move forward with a referendum to stop the project.

The property is a portion of about 2,400 acres Draper City bought from Zion’s Bank in 2012 that was initially slated for development. Mayor Darell Smith said at the time, it was a good addition to the city’s open space. Two years later, Draper City sold 110 acres of that property to Blue Bison Development. And this October, nearby residents like Leigh Brennan received a letter saying the developer needed to buy more. Somewhere between 30 and 55 acres-just behind Brennan’s property.

“We were like what are you talking about?” Brennan says. “You just said that you’re going to preserve all of this property. Which is what you also stated when you purchased it back in 2012. So we were really shocked.”

The Brennans and their neighbors had been under the impression that the property, with its expansive views, hiking trails and visible wildlife would stay that way. They say if the council approves the developer’s request on Tuesday, they’ll begin the process for a referendum and getting a citizen’s initiative on the Fall 2017 ballot. City officials say the property was never legally designated open space-although there are signs on the property indicating it as such.

Draper City Councilman Jeff Stenquist supports the proposed development. He says the city still fully intends to preserve some of land on the property for open space. But this development, he says will help offset the cost of maintaining existing open space, and help the city acquire more.  

“We need to know what we’re going to sell for development before we can define the boundaries of the conservation easement. I think we’re very close to doing that,” Stenquist says. “Really it’s this development, this land sale, is the one we’re waiting for to make that decision.”

Stenquist says he would be surprised if the council does vote on the issue Tuesday, considering there is so much public interest. He says the council may take another two weeks to consider the sale. 

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