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Draper Journal

Four years later, decision regarding Geneva Rock’s expansion at POM still looms

Feb 29, 2024 02:34PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

This map from Geneva Rock circa 2020 shows areas (highlighted in pink) where the company could potentially expand their sand and gravel operations at The Point of the Mountain. (Courtesy Draper City)

Four years ago, a decision on the hotly contested issue of whether or not Geneva Rock could expand their operations at the Point of the Mountain (POM) seemed imminent. Geneva had applied to the city for a rezone of approximately 75 acres from agricultural to manufacturing. Draper’s planning commission forwarded a negative recommendation to Draper’s city council and the council was scheduled to vote on the matter March 25, 2020. The pandemic struck and that meeting never happened.

The city hoped to negotiate with Geneva. “The ball was in their court,” Mayor Troy Walker said in a previous interview. He hoped the public would understand the potential benefit to a negotiation versus the risk of having a judge decide. “It’s always better to make a deal because you get something from it,” Walker said at the time. 

But Geneva Rock pursued other avenues to bypass the city’s local zoning ordinances. In August of 2022, they requested a ruling on the matter from the Division of Oil, Gas & Mining (DOGM), indicating that they’d be mining at the site. Walker commented at the time, “Their goal is to show that they are a mining operation, that they are no longer a sand and gravel operation. You become a mine especially if you extract a mineral. They claim they extract quartz. If they are declared a mine, they are regulated exclusively by DOGM.”

Meanwhile, Draper City chose to fight Geneva in the court system. “Draper City asserts that Geneva’s operations at The Point of the Mountain Quarry do not meet the definition in Utah code of ‘vested mining use’ and Geneva must comply with Draper’s zoning laws,” said a September 2022 city statement. 

This February, Draper City notified residents that arguments for a summary judgment were presented in court Jan. 31, that the judge would deliberate, and the city expected a final decision toward the end of March. 

Walker explained, “We’re trying to win an upfront motion. If we win, the case is over. If we lose, we’re going to trial.”  He estimates the city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, a fight that he and the council feel is worth it. “Because if you look at the parcel of property they have, they can cut a giant V in the middle of Steep Mountain,” he said.

Meanwhile, Geneva and other companies have pursued state legislative action that would override cities’ land use authority for their business purposes. There’s one bill in the House (HB502) and one in the Senate (SB172) this session.

The court decision expected in late March would be moot if either of the bills currently being considered by the legislature is passed. The legislative session ends March 1. 

“They’re equally horrible bills for city land use control. Gravel becomes king in a way that any business in Utah would enjoy. It’s like picking a specific sector of commerce and saying it’s more important than citizens…it eviscerates local land use authority. These problems shouldn’t be rushed through a 45-day legislative session....Everyone should have a say and there should be a way to compromise on these things. When someone buys a house, they should be able to expect to not have a gravel mine in their neighborhood,” Walker said.

A spokesperson for Geneva could not be reached for comment at press time. λ