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Utah developer seeks help for family in landslide

Created: 08/08/2014 4:21 PM
By: BRADY McCOMBS

NORTH SALT LAKE, Utah (AP) — An official with the development firm that built an upscale home destroyed in Utah's recent landslide made a tearful plea for donations Friday as part of a plan to help the displaced family.

The request from Scott Kjar, vice president of Eaglepointe Development, comes as city officials try to determine the cause of the landslide and whether unpermitted construction work contributed to the disaster that destroyed the 3,000-square-foot house, valued at about $415,000.

An Utrilla family spokesman said their insurance doesn't cover landslides and an adjuster has told them they won't be remunerated for damage to their property or possessions.

Kjar said all work done in the area by Eaglepointe has been properly permitted. His company has donated a $130,000 lot to the fundraising effort and urged the community to raise $500,000 so the family of 12 would not have to leave their suburban Salt Lake City neighborhood and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregation.

"In our community, we have a value of bearing one another's burdens," Kjar said, alluding to teachings of the Mormon church, the dominant faith in Utah. "Today, we are here to ask you to help us bear their burdens, an innocent party in this situation."

Kjar specifically called for contributions from builders, suppliers and contractors that Eaglepointe has worked with in constructing more than 1,300 homes in the area.

North Salt Lake officials, meanwhile, are investigating the landslide that came during a Tuesday rainstorm and sent eight members of the Utrilla family who were home at the time fleeing as the 400-foot mountain slope tumbled into their home.

There were no injuries or deaths, but 27 other homes were evacuated as a precaution. The families in all but three of those homes have returned. One unoccupied house remains in danger, North Salt Lake Mayor Len Arave said.

The investigation has extended to construction work on a hill that was originally a gravel pit used during freeway expansion ahead of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

City manager Barry Edwards said officials have come across unpermitted excavation work and retaining wall installations.

Utrilla, the honorary Peruvian consulate in Salt Lake City speaking for his extended family members who include his parents, siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews, does not live in the home, which he said was paid off.

The family currently is staying in a home provided by Eaglepointe. Kjar said even if the company can't raise the full amount it's seeking, officials are committed to getting the Utrillas a new home.

Utrilla said his family has been grateful for the company's help.

"There is a focus on doing what is right, not just the legal obligation but the moral obligation," Utrilla said. "They are doing what they have been taught in our religion."

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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