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The developer said he wasn't issuing a threat, but city officials said it sure sounded like one.

The future of Gerald Anderson's involvement in the city's most ambitious economic development effort slammed into a hurdle Tuesday when Anderson said he'd sue to disconnect 300 acres from South Jordan if the City Council didn't immediately meet zoning requests.He said he wasn't "holding a gun to the council's head," but after explaining he'd been unable to give residents who now own land in a planned special improvement district concrete answers about the project, Anderson dropped a bomb on the group.

"If the city doesn't want this type of development in this part of town, if you don't want to pay . . . we've got to look at the possibility of disconnecting ourselves from the city," Anderson said.

The disconnection would include the 300 acres where Anderson has proposed a development to include commercial, retail and multifamily housing.

City officials said they were disappointed at Anderson's threat. "We think it's counterproductive. It's why developers get a bad name for themselves," City Administrator Dave Millheim said.

In late June, the council voted to support Anderson's development efforts to bring a 300-acre development to the area between 10600 South and 11400 South near I-15.

Residents whose property values are expected to increase within the established special improvement district designation were expected to pay some costs for the project. Parcels within a special improvement district have adjusted tax rates based on their assessed value and access to road frontage.

The project is designed to be the South Jordan equivalent of Sandy's Utah Auto Mall, a huge contributer to that city's tax base.

Anderson originally approached the city about the development, and has carefully orchestrated conversations and meetings with landowners in the area.

When Anderson implied the city hadn't done a good job informing residents about the improvement district, Councilman Jack Peck quickly reminded Anderson that the district idea was his. "The intent was to help you out, not to help out the residents.

"You shouldn't be making the city the bad guy in this," Peck said. "We could do this project anyway."

Although the city and Anderson have worked well together in discussions about intricate financing, zoning and land sale details, Tuesday's announcement was a "huge step backward," Millheim said.

"The council is still very optimistic about the area, but it's not optimistic about the methods," Millheim said. "And I'm frankly not optimistic about the SID."

Council directed city staff to pursue a master plan for the 330-acre area and see if it's possible to speed up the process, but laws requiring advanced notice for public hearings mean it's going to take some time, Millheim said.

"It's our attitude that haste makes waste," he said. "The city wants to do it right and they want to do it once. This is very important to us."