To the cheers of area residents, the Salt Lake County Commission Wednesday unanimously rejected plans for a large commercial development adjacent to Taylorsville Park.
The decision ends more than a year of debate and discussion that united the Taylorsville-Bennion community against what it perceived as a threat to its park and its residential neighborhoods.At issue was a master-plan amendment that would have opened the door to a proposal by home improvement giant Home Depot to develop a store south of the park at 4800 S. Redwood Road.
Project representative Frank Hazleton argued a consolidated commercial development such as Home Depot would be better than a strip mall. And he said the developers were willing to address the residents' concerns.
For example, the company was willing to buy an additional two acres and add it to Taylorsville Park on the east side of the proposed Home Depot, he said. Also, Home Depot would have paid for improvements to traffic signals at 4700 and 4800 South, something the Utah Department of Transportation won't do for several years.
But the residents said the project would isolate the park, exacerbate traffic congestion and lead to the deterioration of the residential character of the surrounding neighborhoods.
With a population of 55,000, Taylorsville-Bennion needs more parks and open space, said Community Council representative Bruce Wasden.
He and other residents said while they would rather see the site designated park land, they would be willing to accept lighter commercial or office projects.
The residents also argued that a Home Depot would not significantly increase the county's tax base because it would probably just drive competitors out of business. Home Depot officials rejected that assertion, saying their projects create new business.
Commission Chairman Jim Bradley praised Home Depot officials for their willingness to work with residents and explore alternatives. "Home Depot is a class act," he said, "but I believe it would be premature to move ahead and that it would have a negative impact on this community."
Commissioners Randy Horiuchi and Brent Overson supported the motion to deny the master plan amendment, which the county Planning Commission had approved over residents' objections.
With Home Depot out of the picture, however, residents may be confronted by another development choice. The land is owned by United Security Financial, which has indicated it might move ahead with plans for a church and a rehabilitation center for gang members and drug addicts.