Herriman • The rebooted version of Olympia Hills, a high-density community development proposed west of Herriman, is going to face tough scrutiny, judging from the project’s first airing Wednesday.
About 200 people gathered at Herriman’s Bastian Elementary School — roughly 4 miles east of where the 938-acre development would be built — to study its details and to question developers about the effects on their neighborhoods from adding as many as 22,000 new residents to this corner of southwest Salt Lake County.
A second open house on Olympia Hills is planned Thursday, starting at 6 p.m. at Golden Fields Elementary School in South Jordan.
Added traffic, increased water demand, school crowding and an implicit threat to their rural quality of life seemed foremost on people’s minds Wednesday evening, as residents looked at a series of display boards about Olympia Hills in the school auditorium and watched a looping promotional video on the project.
“This is going to directly affect us," said longtime Herriman resident Craig Colbert. "It’s going to kick our butt if it goes in.”
Residents seemed unconvinced by claims from developers Doug Young and Cory Shupe that modeling the new Olympia Hills as a high-tech company town — with a variety of housing types and commercial centers built next to job centers located in the same community — would offset regional problems with road congestion.
“They’re trying to do this as though it’s an island, pretending it’s not going to have an impact on surrounding communities,” Herriman City Councilman Jared Henderson said. “And that’s just a fallacy.
Questions on roads and water capacity, added Herriman resident Chris Berbert, “need to be answered, taking into account all the new residents that are already here.”
Henderson and others urged southwest county residents to make their views on Olympia Hills known to Salt Lake County Council members. The panel is likely to take up review of the new zoning application in coming weeks.
Young and Shupe won initial zoning approval from the county for a more dense version of Olympia Hills last June, at about nine homes per acre. But then-County Mayor Ben McAdams ultimately vetoed the proposal in the face of a massive public outcry and petition drive by area residents.
The project’s latest version, unveiled last week, is slimmed down to just under seven homes per acre, and developers say they intend to resubmit their application for zoning to the County Council shortly after absorbing this week’s round of public input.
County Councilman Steve DeBry, a South Jordan resident and lone vote against the project last June, has said he hopes the revised plans are studied once again by county planners and elected officials in cities adjacent to the development.
Young and Shupe say they’ve had reassurances from county officials that key roads serving the area — particularly U-111 and 12600 South between Bangerter Highway and Mountain View Corridor — will be improved to handle traffic. But their approach of putting employment centers next to homes will also help break typical commuter patterns, they contend.
“We’re trying to answer the question of how do we pull that traffic flow the other way,” Shupe told one group of residents.
Many in attendance Wednesday said those roads are failing already as a result of recent years of rapid housing growth across Riverton, Herriman, Bluffdale, South Jordan and West Jordan. Several said claims about road, water and sewer capacity by Young and Shupe were unverified.
“They’re putting our quality of life and infrastructure on the line," said Justin Swain, an organizer of the group Utahns for Responsible Growth, which formed last summer to fight Olympia Hills. “We’ll be 100,000 people out here with little to no infrastructure.”
Traffic studies by Horrocks Engineering on behalf of Olympia Hills indicate the stretch of 12600 South between Bangerter and Mountain View highways can’t handle today’s traffic levels, especially at rush hour, and that added lanes are also needed on key sections of U-111, also known as Bacchus Highway.
“I’m not just worried. It’s insane,” Keith Breinholt, a member of nearby Riverton’s transportation committee, said of projected traffic levels. Breinholt said he also doubted assertions that Olympia Hills residents would only ever work, live, shop and recreate in the master-planned community.
“The only truly self-contained community in Utah is the state prison,” he quipped.
Breinholt also said Olympia Hills would probably require construction of at least one new high school, two middle schools and a handful of elementary schools — and he questioned if Jordan School District had those resources.
Riverton-area retiree Karen Everill said area residents are already being told to conserve water, making her worry whether demand from a new wave of Olympia Hills residents will only make that situation worse.
Young and Shupe contend water demand will be met by Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, which had already planned to service the area.
Many at Wednesday’s open house also cited a perceived lack of thorough analysis and public information on key issues associated with the project, as Olympia Hills backers seem to be moving quickly on getting county approval a second time around.
“It’s just too many people,” said Herriman resident Brandon Aronson. “I didn’t like it last year and I don’t like it now.”