Olympia Hills opponents prepare for referendum possibility in anticipation of County Council’s approval
Feb 24, 2020 12:00PM
By Justin Adams
A resident gives a public comment to the Salt Lake County Council.
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
With Salt Lake County Council scheduled to make a decision regarding Olympia Hills on Feb. 25 and March 3 (after the Herriman Journal’s press deadline), opponents of the controversial development were preparing for a possible referendum process.
Lisa Brown, a member of Utah for Responsible Growth, told the Herriman Journal the group expected the 931-acre project to get a 6-3 nod of approval from the Salt Lake County Council.
“It’s discouraging. It’s frustrating,” she said. “We have really great residents out here who are well-informed. We have good solid data for why this is not a good plan. I think the citizens have really stepped up to express that. It’s disappointing to hear that the council seems to be pushing that aside.”
Brown said an approval for Olympia Hills would just be the latest example in a pattern of Utah political leaders ignoring the will of the people they represent, citing examples such as the successful referendum that led to the repeal of the legislature’s tax overhaul.
“It’s not a good way to govern,” Brown said. “The best way to govern is really to look at what the problems are from the start and respond to those. It’s unfortunate that we feel like we have to go to this extreme route to be heard.”
If opponents of the development go down the referendum path, they will face requirements similar to the tax referendum, only it will be on a county level rather than statewide. According to Brown, the group will have 45 days to gather a certain number of signatures from six out of eight districts in the county, as well as reach a certain total number of signatures.
Those requirements mean signature gatherers will need to gain the support of people around the valley, including those who wouldn’t necessarily see how Olympia Hills’ construction would impact their daily lives. However, Brown thinks her group may be able to use the momentum from the tax referendum to gain support among those who feel like they’re not being listened to, wherever they might live.
She also pointed out that issues of development are impacting every part of the county, so she expects a referendum would resonate with similarly minded people.
If the development is approved and a referendum process is started, Utah for Responsible Growth members will be looking for volunteers to lend both their time and financial support to help gather signatures. Interested individuals can contact the group through its Facebook page.