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Riverdale plans at ex-Motor-Vu site get OK but developer quiet on next steps

By Tim Vandenack - | Sep 14, 2023

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

The site of the ex-Coleman's Motor-Vu drive-in theater in Riverdale, photographed Thursday, July 13, 2023. A developer wants to build a 68-home development on the 20-acre plot.

RIVERDALE -- Riverdale officials have approved the site plan for the proposed redevelopment of the ex-Coleman's Motor-Vu drive-in theater location, a project that had sparked sharp debate stemming from the possible repercussions to area traffic flow.

Where things go from here, though, isn't crystal clear.

"I can't speak for the developer because they haven't communicated exactly where they're at," said Mike Eggett, community development director for the city.

Goldcrest Homes officials warned Riverdale leaders in July they might sue after the City Council tabled action on the site plan and another measure needed for its proposed housing project to proceed. The City Council approved the two measures on Aug. 15, presumably defusing the situation, but the developer has only had "limited communications" with Riverdale officials, according to City Administrator Steven Brooks, and also didn't respond to Standard-Examiner queries seeking comment.

Whatever the case, the specter of a court fight over the matter seems to have passed. "The city sees no reason why legal action would be filed," Brooks said.

Likewise, with the Aug. 15 action, development can proceed. "There is no reason from the city that would prevent it," Brooks said.

News last year that Motor-Vu would be closing and that the land where it sits had been rezoned for housing sparked a surge of nostalgia given the dwindling number of drive-ins across the country. Then, after Sandy-based Goldcrest submitted plans with the city calling for 68 new homes at the 20-acre site, the proposal sparked a new uproar -- concerns among some about the development's exit and entry point onto 1050 West.

Councilperson Alan Arnold, in particular, bristled at the access point. He worried it would lead to traffic congestion given the proximity to Utah Military Academy, a charter school, and took umbrage at what he viewed as the developer's refusal to consider alternatives.

Goldcrest officials countered, saying they had no choice in the matter as reps from the Utah Department of Transportation, which maintains 1050 West, picked the spot. The proposed development would have an additional entry and exit point along South Weber Drive.

City officials would have preferred that the 1050 West exit and entry point were further north, aligned with 5150 South, according to Eggett. UDOT officials, though, hold sway, and Brooks noted at the Aug. 15 meeting that Riverdale fire and police officials said they were comfortable with the proposed location.

Beyond that, Riverdale would have limited legal recourse if Goldcrest were to sue, seemingly figuring in the Aug. 15 City Council action. Goldcrest filed notice with the city on July 12 warning it was considering a lawsuit after the Riverdale City Council's earlier decision tabling action. "What I don't want to do is take this into court because I think our hands would really be tied in there," Brooks told the City Council.

Riverdale Mayor Braden Mitchell held out hope that Goldcrest officials would still be willing to consider alternatives to its development plan given the potential traffic repercussions.

"We do hope that they'll continue to negotiate in good faith and try to come up with a decent project," Mitchell said at the Aug. 15 meeting. "It is something we're going to be stuck with as Riverdale residents for the foreseeable future."


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