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Big future is here out in Herriman

2 developments are under way; another is pending

SHARE Big future is here out in Herriman

HERRIMAN — Space is no longer the final frontier. Herriman is.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate there'd be homes built out there. I just thought it was fit for jackrabbits and snakes," said Lynn Crane, 62, who remembers many days spent alone on the mountain overlooking Herriman. As a boy he'd ride horseback up Rose Canyon, seeing not a soul for miles.

Last year, something else happened that Crane had never dreamed of. The Salt Lake County Commission appointed him Herriman's first mayor, giving him the reins for the town's future.

And that future is here, in the form of two major resort developments and and hundreds of houses, ranging from multimillion-dollar mansions to compact "twin homes" better known as condominiums.

Saddle Cove Properties' Herriman Springs development will wrap a 27-hole golf course, clubhouse, restaurant and conference center plus 705 homes around the chin of Herriman's South Mountain (not to be confused with the South Mountain in Draper). That project has preliminary approval, and Saddle Cove's Larry Hutchings hopes to start construction by year's end.

Stretching southeast is Rosecrest, the 2,000-acre community that will eventually add 2,400 new homes to Herriman and Bluffdale. Prospective buyers drive out here to see the models — often after using their cell phones to call Herriman Town Clerk Paulette Logan.

"They ask, 'Where are you?' " said Logan. Neither I-15 nor Bangerter Highway has a sign directing motorists to Herriman. The town's sole sign is the one at the eastern entrance, just west of Riverton.

Herriman's next proposed development may be the one to put the place on the map. The Deer Island Resort, if approved, will turn the top of South Mountain into a self-contained community of 188 upscale single-family homes, 66 twin homes, an equestrian park with adjacent resort hotel and restaurant, three shopping centers, an amphitheater and an observatory. Arlin Geo-Physical in Salt Lake City is the developer, and Sheldon Hansen the spokesman.

"There is nothing like this in the valley," Hansen said. Deer Island would also have its own medical clinic and helipad, a senior care facility and two office towers.

"We're shooting for five-story glass towers," said Hansen.

But Crane isn't letting developers run roughshod over the landscape. He has stalled approval of the Deer Island development until its planners come up with an attractive way to get to the proposed mountain-top resort.

"We have no intention of cutting a road across the face of that mountain," said Crane. "It's a well-designed development. The $64,000 question is how you get up there."

Hansen says he has the answer: "Our roads will look like we've implanted cliffs," he said. Arlin Geo-Physical will build retaining walls of rock that reinforces the roadway while looking natural.

Through August, Deer Island and its road idea were hot potatoes, tossed between Herriman's Planning Commission and its Town Council. On Sept. 14, it's the commission's turn again.

Meantime, other neighborhoods are forming and filling with people attracted by Herriman's relatively low land prices. There's Copper Creek, Rose Creek Ranch and the Estates at Rose Creek, with homes starting around $150,000.

"You can purchase a new home out here for less than what a used home costs in Salt Lake or even Sandy," said Logan, who moved recently into a Copper Creek house.

Now the keys to a livable Herriman, Crane said, are shopping and roads leading to it. There is no store, gas station, post office or other locale that traditionally serves as the place to swap stories and shoot the breeze.

"We're negotiating right now with a grocery store chain," said the mayor. A Holiday gas-and-go store is "a done deal" for the corner of 13100 South and Rosecrest Road (5600 West) and will open in early 2001.

Yet Crane's hopes for Herriman include preserving its open vistas, with hiking and equestrian trails meandering, unbroken, through neighborhoods and up mountainsides.

"We don't want to squeeze the horse people out as is happening in Draper," he said. Logan added that trails have been maintained through the Rosecrest and Rose Creek developments, to connect with paths out "yonder."

For now Herriman still has a lot of yonder. "People have been moving out here, for the past 20 years, because of the idea that they can get away from cars and noise and the people in the main part of the valley," said Crane. "And we still have the openness, the quiet evenings."

Last week, the mayor received a report on Herriman's population growth. "We're up to 3,200 people," he said, expressing some, but not a whole lot of, surprise. In July the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget placed Herriman first in Utah's city growth race and stated that with its wealth of open land, the town would grow by 9.1 percent each year, to a population of nearly 15,000 by 2030.

"This is the last area to go," said Herriman Planning Commission Chairwoman Raquel Deluca, whose family has lived in the area for 50 years. Some residents have "what I call the 'treehouse syndrome' — they want to build theirs and pull the ladder up." Both old-timers and newcomers have told her they want the development halted before it reaches their corner of the county.

Deluca says her response is, "Take it up with Brigham Young," who she said urged the Mormon pioneers to build homes across the Salt Lake Valley, north to Brigham City — and south to what is now Herriman.

E-mail: durbani@desnews.com