A company that operates some of the largest gravel quarries along the Wasatch Front is now facing allegations that it circumvented local zoning laws in a town where it’s faced pushback for years.
The city of Draper filed a lawsuit on Monday against Geneva Rock, asking the 3rd District Court to reject the company’s claim that its Point of the Mountain operations, straddling Utah and Salt Lake counties, are exempt from local zoning ordinances.
Geneva says its operations are protected under the state definition of “vested mining use,” which according to Utah law is a project that “existed or was conducted or otherwise engaged in before a political subdivision prohibits, restricts, or otherwise limits the mining use.”
Using that definition, state regulators approved Geneva’s application to expand 67 acres in the Draper foothills last month, an area that would be off-limits for mining according to city code. By claiming vested mining use, Draper argues Geneva sidestepped oversight from officials who have clashed with the company in recent years.
Draper responded this week with a suit that claims this was Geneva’s intent, arguing the Point of the Mountain quarry can’t actually be classified as a vested mining use because state law does not include sand and gravel in its definition.
“Draper City is asking the court to rule that Geneva has no vested mining use and issue an injunction that prohibits Geneva from beginning land disturbing activities on its proposed expansion of the Point of the Mountain Quarry until Geneva complies with Draper’s zoning ordinances,” the city said in a news release.
Ally Isom, the chief strategy and marketing officer for Clyde Companies, Geneva’s parent company, responded with a statement to the Deseret News on Tuesday.
“We are confident we are fully compliant with law and state procedure. We are reviewing the city’s action and will earnestly continue as an engaged community partner, both in Draper and throughout the state,” she said.
Geneva has mined gravel and sand at the Point of the Mountain since the 1970s, producing materials used in everything from highways to backyard residential projects. What started as a small pit expanded to a sprawling quarry on the company’s 800-plus acres that residents and public health experts say fills the air with harmful dust.
That fueled several fiery planning commission meetings in Draper over the years, where residents complained of asthma and other long-term health problems and would often find a layer of dust inside their home if they left windows open.
Most recently, Draper received an application from Geneva to expand about 75 acres in February of 2020. The request was met with a negative recommendation from the planning commission. When the pandemic hit, the company’s plans to expand were put on hold.