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West Jordan, Ivory settle zoning suit

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WEST JORDAN — Ivory Development squeaked by with a settlement of a lawsuit against West Jordan on Tuesday by winning higher density for a project — but the decision didn't sit well with everyone on the City Council.

The council voted 5-2 to agree to the settlement, which called for a rezone of a 15-acre parcel that would almost double the density of the project. The council agreed 4-3 to the rezone, which increases the number of units per acre that can be built on the land from 3.22 to 6.19.

The rezone will lead to an increase of 47 units in the project, bringing the total of houses in the development to 95, with 58 town homes and 37 single-family houses.

"We're satisfied with what's in the agreement and what's in the zoning ordinance," Chris Gamvroulas, a representative of Ivory Development, told the council Tuesday night. "It has been an interesting experience, but we appreciate that we could come together and settle these issues and be able to move forward. It's in the best interest of both parties to do that."

Ivory Development filed the lawsuit against West Jordan last year because of an inconsistency with the zoning of the area that the company said was unfair. The 15-acre plot of land is surrounded by another developer's housing project, and as the plot changed hands over the years, so did the density allowances for potential projects.

West Jordan's attorney advised the council to agree to the settlement — which required no money from the city, only the zone change — and save the money that would be spent on litigation in court.

While a majority of the council voted in agreement with the city's attorney, council members Melissa Johnson and Kim Rolfe did not agree with the settlement. Councilman Ben Southworth said he was in favor of the settlement, but he did not agree with the levels of high density on the land that would come as a result of the settlement.

Johnson, who is against giving the project a higher density to work with, said Ivory's lawsuit was legitimate, but she thinks the issue should have been decided in the court system, not in a settlement.

"It's a philosophy that I have that you don't decide public policy based on who is going to sue you," Johnson said. "That's not something you can control. ... For the city to settle every lawsuit that would be cheaper to settle than to fight would open the door for frivolous lawsuits."

E-mail: achoate@desnews.com