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The state's third-largest city could have its first full-scale public golf course by the autumn of 1996.

"It's a beautiful spot for it," said Mayor Tom Dolan, applauding the City Council's nod last week to let Bach Corporations of West Jordan put an 18-hole course and 450-unit apartment complex on an old farm site at the edge of the Jordan River.The project is just the thing Sandy leaders have sought to preserve green space along the proposed Jordan River Parkway, which someday is supposed to carve a pastoral swath through suburban Salt Lake County from Bluffdale to the downtown inner city.

Aptly dubbed the Riverside Golf Course and Community, it will cover about 160 acres of pastureland on the westernmost edge of Sandy between 9400 and 9800 South. Six of the course's fairways will be across the river in South Jordan, where long-term possibilities include adding another nine holes.

The development will cost between $20 million and $25 million, according to Bach president Dale L. Rindlisbacher, who touted its proximity to I-15 and fast-growing locales like Sandy and West Jordan.

"We think it's located really good in the valley," said Rind-lis-bacher, whose company has built apartments, houses and shopping centers but never a golf course. Work is scheduled to start this spring and take 12 to 18 months.

Though Riverside ownership is private, it would cater to the public. Sandy, a city of about 90,000, is home to just two other courses - the Hidden Valley Country Club, where membership is required, and the diminutive Pebblebrook, a privately owned public course.

The council's unanimous decision to grant Bach's request for a rezone - permitting construction of three times the originally proposed 150 apartments - was made over the objection of nearby homeowners, who said it would add to the already oppressive traffic that spills onto residential streets from the I-15 vicinity of 9000 South.

But Dolan said roads will be designed to keep vehicles away from houses.

"The key issue was traffic, but access won't be through the neighborhood unless somebody gets lost," he said.

Golfers and those who live in what will be upscale fairway apartments will travel to and from the area via 500 West, an 80-foot-wide arterial that cuts through an industrial park.

Dolan said much-needed improvements on the 9000 South interchange of I-15 are likely to happen within the next five years, easing congestion. And the impending opening of the north-south Bangerter Highway to the west will also take pressure off the area.

Dolan said the city will benefit considerably without being out much.

"All of the cost is being borne by the private sector," said Dolan, though he said City Hall will supervise the development and probably require amenities like foot bridges and riverside bike paths.

Dolan and Bryant Anderson, a city councilman, said apartments were included in the development largely to procure financing.

"The banks won't loan money to build a golf course," said the mayor.

"And they won't loan to build condominiums," added Bryant.

A June memo to the city from Bach Development suggests the dwellings will eventually be sold as resident-owned condominiums, however, "when the market is feasible."

Anderson said the development will probably spark more construction in the area's industrial park, which remains largely vacant.

"It'll change the complexion of that entire area and really upgrade it," he said. "It's something that really needs to move forward. The timing is right."