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Utah developer pulls racial data from site

Published December 2, 2005 1:28 am

A selling point? Eagle Mountain was touted as having a lower percentage of blacks than the rest of the state
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2005, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Eagle Mountain is a burgeoning Utah County community, full of young families, new homeowners and white people.

Lots and lots of white people.

The racial breakdown of Eagle Mountain was listed as a selling point on the Web site of home builder Bigg Homes.

The site also included this comparison among others: "Black race population percentage significantly below state average."

"Significantly below" was in bold.

David Adams, co-owner of Bigg Homes, removed the racial information from the site after being contacted by The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday.

"We apologize if that offended anybody. It wasn't our intention," he said. "Frankly, it is offensive to me, too."

Adams said the information didn't come from his company.

A Web designer contracted to build the Bigg Homes site copied information from another Internet address, http://www.city-data.com, according to Adams. The information in almost the exact same format does appear on city-data.com.

"We noticed it immediately," Adams said. "We asked him to remove it."

That was two months ago.

"It wasn't done. It's done now," he said.

Adams is "considering" firing the Web designer. He refused to identify that man or the company he works for.

Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP branch in Salt Lake City, described the information as "subtle discrimination," meant to encourage white people and discourage black people from buying in the area.

Salt Lake-area real estate agent Babs De Lay said that in general, highlighting statistics about protected groups such as racial minorities is beyond unethical.

"That is discriminatory," said De Lay, who recently attended a conference for realtors on federal fair housing laws. "That is definitely wrong."

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal "To make, print, or publish . . . any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin."

Bigg Homes, a division of EM Holdings, which also owns Tuscany Homes, had its grand opening on Oct. 1 and has since sold 60 houses that are still under construction.

The Web site for Tuscany Homes does not include any statistical information about Eagle Mountain or any other area the company sells in.

Black residents in Eagle Mountain, like in the rest of Utah, are rare. According to 2000 Census data, Eagle Mountain is 0.6 percent black. Utah as a whole is about 1.3 percent black based on 2004 Census estimates.

mcanham@sltrib.com