I have lived most of my life in Draper. I love the mountains that surround our community. It wasn't until the 90's that homes started to be built on the base of the Wasatch mountains in Draper or on top of Traverse Ridge. I have seen our community change, many new neighborhoods have been built on the east foothills and up in the SunCrest area. I have worried about losing all of the beautiful open space that we have in our community.
In the late 90’s, Ann Parr asked me to serve on a committee to seek funding to preserve open space in Corner Canyon for hikers and equestrians. Several other residents were asked to be on the committee, including Marsha Vawdrey, Clark Naylor, Melanie Dansie and many, many others who volunteered to help. This committee worked hard. They collected signatures in order to place an open space bond on the ballot to purchase 1,027 acres in the canyon. In 2003, the bond was placed on the ballot and the residents of Draper approved the purchase of Corner Canyon. The City recently went through a planning process and approved the Corner Canyon Master Plan in 2016.
In 2012, City leaders were approached by Zions Bank representatives to see if the city was interested in purchasing 2,315 acres of land that was part of the SunCrest development up on the top of the Traverse Ridge Mountain range. This property was originally owned by Terrabrook, and they had plans to build an additional approximately 2,400 homes on this land. Terrabrook had filed for bankruptcy and Zions Bank acquired the property.
Draper City leaders decided to go ahead and purchase the land from Zions Bank at an incredible price of $5.6 million for 2,315 acres, at cost of $2,419 per acre. This was such a great opportunity for the City. To pay for the land, the City bonded for $5.6 million, agreeing to make interest-only payments from 2012 to 2024 in the amount of $231,550 per year. Starting in 2025, the annual bond payment will include payments on the principal of the bond with an annual increase of $525,000 for a total annual payment of $756,550. This bond payment structure was done because the City did not have the financial capacity at the time for a standard “principal and interest” annual bond payment. City leaders wanted to protect the property from further development as much as possible and planned to set aside much of this property as open space. However, they also anticipated that they would sell off a few smaller parcels in the future in order to pay down the bond that was issued to purchase the land.
In a press release issued by Draper City in 2012, it stated: “While the majority of the property being purchased is intended to remain as open space, the City may surplus some of the property and sell some parcels to developers.”
You may or may not have heard that the Draper City Council is considering surplusing 55 acres of land located at 1300 East SunCrest Dr., at the top of the Traverse Ridge Mountain. If the City Council votes to approve the surplus of this land, then the land can be sold to a developer. The size of this property is equal to approx. 2.4% of the total 2,315 acres that are owned by the taxpayers. The sale of this property will help to reduce the bond debt. City leaders do not want to raise taxes in order to pay off the bond. They had always intended to sell off small parcels of the land to pay back the bond. This issue has raised concern with some Draper and Highland residents who live near this section of land and many people attended a public hearing on December 6th to voice their opinion.
At its Dec. 20, 2016 meeting, the City Council decided to start the process of conveying a conservation easement to Salt Lake County on a majority of the City-owned property in the SunCrest area. As part of this process the City Council will first identify which areas may be sold for development in order to recover the costs incurred when the property was purchased. The remaining property will then be placed under a conservation easement.
I want the community members to know that your City Council members will make the best decision on this issue for the community as a whole.
Draper City Council