Quantcast
Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

Work begins on North Salt Lake landslide

By Morgan Jacobsen, Deseret News

Published: Thu, Aug. 7 12:10 p.m. MDT

 People stand near the top of a landslide that destroyed a home near 739 Parkway Drive in North Salt Lake, Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014.

People stand near the top of a landslide that destroyed a home near 739 Parkway Drive in North Salt Lake, Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014.

(Michelle Tessier, Deseret News)

NORTH SALT LAKE — It's been several days since a landslide destroyed a house in North Salt Lake and threatened a neighborhood, but Steven Peterson's peace of mind is still as precarious as the towering mound of earth settling across the street from his own home.

"We don't feel any safer," Peterson said. "I'm sure we actually feel less safe because no one actually knows if that mountain could give way. It's unpredictable."

While updates from the city are "very general," Peterson said he was comforted to see progress being made. There was also some good news for those affected by the slide who may be able to recover their losses.

"The city seems to be paying close attention to this," he said.

Crews began working Thursday to build a road onto the site of Tuesday's landslide to facilitate large drilling equipment needed to test the stability of the hillside, according to city officials.

Data collected during the testing period will be used to model the characteristics of the landslide, which will be considered in developing a construction plan, according to city manager Barry Edwards.

"It seems very complicated, but it won't take them very long," Edwards said.

Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey calculated that the slide contained about 300,000 cubic yards of material and covered an area of 250,000 square feet — about twice the size of the EnergySolutions Arena.

Kern River Gas will also drill to inspect the condition of a pipe that runs near the slide, Edwards said.

City officials and developers were waiting for the area to dry out before taking action on the aftermath of the slide. Although the slope continues to move gradually while it dries and settles, it's safe to take preliminary steps, Edwards said.

"We think the risk is minimal enough that it makes sense to begin gathering data as soon as possible," he said.

Edwards said the drilling is expected to begin no later than Monday.

City insurance representatives said Thursday that while landslide coverage is rare, there may be options for those affected by the slide.

"We believe that there is insurance out there that can cover it," Edwards said. "And it's our goal as a city to make sure that everybody is made whole from the losses that they have."

That includes the Utrilla family, whose home was crushed in the slide. A benefit golf tournament is planned for the family Sept. 26 at the Eaglewood Golf Course.

The cause of the slide and the party responsible remains unclear. But city officials have reviewed geotechnical studies done prior to the landslide and found that some construction projects, such as retention walls built at the base of the hill and development on top, may have been done without proper permits.

"We don't know if those had any material effect on what happened, but we're going to continue to examine that," Edwards said. "I believe the consensus would be that those (retention walls) would be a minor contributing factor, that a larger contributing factor would be some of the construction that may have gone on top of the hill."

Questar Gas restored gas lines Thursday for all the houses in the area except the four that remained evacuated. The city plans to waive this month's utility fees for all 27 of the homes that were evacuated Tuesday.

Peterson said he and his neighbors are working together to help each other and to stay informed on the progress that is made.

"We're going to continue to act as a group and try to do everything we can to get the best information so we can make decisions about our property," he said.

Contributing: Anne Forester, Andrew Adams

Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com, Twitter: MorganEJacobsen

Related Stories
Recommended
1. cjb
Bountiful, UT,
Aug. 7, 2014

I heard on the radio, that house insurance doesn't cover this type of event. That has to really hurt. I feel for the people hurt by this slide.

2. ulvegaard
Medical Lake, Washington,
Aug. 7, 2014

In such times, it seems that the first order of business is to figure out who is at fault - or at least, who is most at fault.

Perhaps the best thing is to help out, offer words of encouragement, find ways to prevent future catastrophe when possible and then move on.

3. JWB
Kaysville, UT,
Aug. 7, 2014

They should have spent more effort in the past year on this.

Lletter from the developer. "The slide that occurred this morning is on property that was originally a gravel pit used for the expansion of I-15 just prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics. The reclamation of this property was performed by the gravel pit operators prior to 1997. The area of the slide is largely owned by the city of North Salt Lake. Eaglepointe Development is a residential developer that has developed extensively in the area since 1999"

4. JWB
Kaysville, UT,
Aug. 7, 2014

Near or in the gravel pit from Google plus the developer's own statement helps to know that there may have been a problem with the slope only being at the minimum required to have large structures in the area.

This letter from the developer. "The slide that occurred this morning is on property that was originally a gravel pit used for the expansion of I-15 just prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics. The reclamation of this property was performed by the gravel pit operators prior to 1997. The area of the slide is largely owned by the city of North Salt Lake. Eaglepointe Development is a residential developer that has developed extensively in the area since 1999"

5. My2Cents
Taylorsville, UT,
Aug. 8, 2014

It would probably be cheaper and safer to buy out the people on this mountain, it will be impossible to stabilize or fix what has been declared in 2 documents from 2 professional geologist with a "warning" that this mountain is not safe to put homes on. Anyone building on this mountain is in violation of this warning including the city and developer. Developer should be stripped of his license and force to refund all money cost incurred in living on this property, including improvements to the homes.

The city and county will just have to eat and lose property taxes losses. No one in their right mind after exposing these warning documents from geologist will remain on the mountain. The building and approval by city zoning engineers are responsible to the victims of this fraud for knowingly violating and not disclosing warnign and high risk occupation. The city approving these permits are primary in neglegence and the only approval granted. The geologist did not approve building homes, the city violated citizens trust and put them all at risk.

These home owners should file a wrongful and fraudulent approval and building of homes on property disapproved.