COALVILLE, Utah — Some residents of the mountain town of Coalville are worried that a plan to build 500 luxury homes could impact the small-town, working class feel of the community.
With the advent of a nearby state park at the Echo Reservoir, developers have turned their eyes toward the town of 1,500 people — which city engineer Shane McFarland says hasn’t grown much in 60 years, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Sunday.
There’s wide acknowledgment that the town will inevitably grow and change, but residents disagree how much and how fast it should. They’ve expressed concerned that a massive swath of homes — and a proposed golf course — would cause an unfit disturbance in the community that doesn’t even have one stoplight.
McFarland said the proposed development could double Coalville’s population within the next decade.
“Everything kind of hit all at once,” McFarland said.
Wohali Partners LLC has petitioned the city to annex more than 2 square miles (5 square kilometers) in the undeveloped hills west of town for the development. The company hasn’t responded to requests for comment from The Salt Lake Tribune. But City Attorney Sheldon Smith said Wohali’s managers have compared the project to the Promontory luxury community near Park City, with 500 multimillion-dollar vacation homes.
The development could potentially boost Coalville’s property tax base, but it’s a stark contrast in a town whose per-capita income is less than half that in the rest of Summit County.
“It just don’t fit with this community,” said resident Jim Blonquist, as he wrapped chicken thighs for a customer in the grocery and general store his family has operated since 1908. “Seems like a foolish idea to me.”
Celeste Gates, who has been organizing residents to resist the development, said a little growth is good —and needed. But she said it’s scary to think about 500 homes being built.
“It’s not the reason I moved here,” she said.
Gates’ husband, Johnny Gates, questioned the development on a broader scale.
“Do we really need a rich community full of million-dollar homes above every town in Summit County?” he asked.
Other residents are in favor of the development, though. Jose Ponce manages Neena’s Market, which opened in 2011 and said it would be nice to get more people in town.
“Summer’s fine, but in winter, business slows down for everyone,” Ponce said. “I think any growth is good growth.”
McFarland said that even if the annexation doesn’t go through, the city is bracing for Coalville’s likely transition as it becomes better known for tourism and recreation.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com