HERRIMAN — The opposition to the Olympia Hills development took on new life Wednesday night.

Hundreds of residents packed the auditorium at Mountain Ridge High School in Herriman, where 16 city officials from the southwestern corner of the valley announced their efforts to force a referendum on the controversial development, which was approved Tuesday night in a 6-3 vote by the Salt Lake County Council.

“This is going to be a massive effort,” said Lorin Palmer, a spokesman for Utah for Responsible Growth, a citizen group that has been leading the charge against Olympia Hills. “That’s why we’re here, asking for your support.”

“We are not against development. We are not against high density development. ... We also support land use decisions being made at the local level,” Palmer said as the auditorium erupted in cheers.

The referendum will be the latest push to stop the development, which has faced backlash for much of the past two years. After the original application was vetoed by then-Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams in 2018, developers submitted a revised application that scaled the proposal back from 8,700 units on 933 acres, to 6,300

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Scaling down proposed Olympia Hills development is just ‘lipstick on a pig’ to Herriman residents

But the revisions and multiple County Council votes have done little to sway public opinion, and on Wednesday night the opposition was alive and well. Red shirts with “#OHNO” printed on the back in bold lettering flooded the auditorium. Palmer and other officials spoke against a backdrop of dozens of red balloons. Volunteers set up tables to gather signatures and collect donations for the referendum.

Starting Wednesday, Herriman officials and Utah for Responsible Growth have seven days to submit an application for the referendum with the County Council, who will then have 20 days to decide whether the proposal is legal or not.

If the Salt Lake County Council deems the referendum legal, organizers will have 45 days to get 82,000 signatures.

“It’s a lot,” said Lisa Brown from Utah for Responsible Growth. “But they got the tax referendum passed.”

Brown hopes the referendum will be on the November ballot, but said there are no guarantees.

“We are again calling upon the citizens here to help us with this,” said Brown, who estimated the cost of printing packets to gather signatures at around $20,000.

Wednesday night’s event also featured an announcement by Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, who declared he will run for Salt Lake County mayor.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson — who after the County Council’s decision to approve the development announced she would not veto it — is up for reelection this year. She was elected in January 2019 to replace McAdams when he began his term in Congress.

Staggs, who has been outspoken in his opposition to Olympia Hills, received a raucous standing ovation. After the event, he told the Deseret News the development pushed him to enter the mayoral race.

“I’ve had a number of people that have been pushing me in this direction, they’ve wanted me to run,” said Staggs. “This is the third strike in terms of the county not listening at all, not trying to work with cities to address growth in a real responsible and smart way. That’s going to have a real impact on my city and I can’t sit idly by.”