DRAPER, Utah (KUTV) — Crews on Wednesday were scheduled to begin tearing down a hillside home in Draper after it was damaged when the runoff-soaked earth beneath it eroded away just days prior.
The mountainside erosion beneath a row of houses on Springtime Road culminated just an hour into Saturday, April 22, when two homes collapsed without any support beneath them. Debris reportedly slid as far as 3,000 feet into the canyon below.
Housing developer Edge Homes was scheduled to begin the demolition at 9 a.m.
"This work needs to be completed to improve the safety of this site and allow workers to begin assessing remediation efforts," according to a statement from Draper City. "Springtime Road will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians during this time except for local traffic. Officers will be on scene to control access."
Demolition is expected to last until approximately 2 p.m., and the city is warning residents and visitors to stay away from the area during the process.
"We reiterate that it is critical to public safety that bystanders avoid the area and don't attempt to access the closed trails or enter the fenced 'no trespassing' area," according to the city.
The residents in the destroyed homes were evacuated in October 2022 due to a ground shift that left the houses' foundations cracked - circumstances that were exacerbated by a historic winter that left the state with two winters' worth of snowpack in its mountains. As springtime weather slowly surfaced, that melting snowpack caused issues for homeowners along the Wasatch Mountains and accelerated the erosion under the hillside properties.
Two nearby residences were evacuated over the weekend, as well, and the houses were condemned.
Draper City Mayor Troy Walker told 2News that the onus is on housing developers to verify a site is geologically appropriate for homes and infrastructure. Though, it is ultimately up to the city to give final approval on construction.
Our team is responsible for reviewing plans, issuing building permits, and conducting field inspections of buildings to ensure compliance with local and state mandated regulations related to building construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation," according to the building permit application section of the city's website.
The application instructions specify that the city will have the reports peer reviewed and approve any engineering reports that declare the land safe for construction.
"The Draper City Building Department will not accept any building plans or applications for building permits of: homes, townhouses, apartments, commercial buildings, and twin homes, unless ... a geotechnical engineering report for that property has been reviewed, approved and accepted by Draper City for that parcel(s)."
The U.S. Geological Survey told 2News that they weren't asked to review area before construction. The report came from an independent service contracted through Edge Homes, which the developer said was vetted and approved by the city's geological consultant.
Edge Homes has held at least one community meeting to address the problems, though many questions were still left unanswered as displaced residents were left without homes and their neighbors were left wondering which house could possibly be the next to go.
The biggest question left unanswered: Why did this happen in the first place?
In a statement ahead of the public meeting Monday, the developer stated that "we simply cannot answer these questions today."
"More analysis and data are necessary," according to the statement, "but we are committed to finding the underlying cause of the problems to ensure they do not happen again."