James Wooldridge, Deseret News
Mayor Mendenhall hails ‘major step’ for city, but she’s not dropping her lawsuit
SALT LAKE CITY — After months of negotiations with Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, a Utah legislator has released a long-anticipated bill changing the statute that created the Utah Inland Port Authority.
House Majority Leader Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, says his bill includes provisions that are a “big win” for Salt Lake City — and the mayor agrees.
But that doesn’t mean Mendenhall is dropping the city’s lawsuit against the state.
The bill, released Friday, cuts down the 100% tax increment, or future property taxes from new growth the port authority would capture in its 16,000-acre jurisdiction west of Salt Lake City International Airport. Rather, the bill would allow Salt Lake City and other taxing entities to capture 25% of that tax revenue, while the port authority keeps 75%.
The bill also seeks to address Salt Lake City’s lead concern with the port authority’s land use power, Gibson said, by clarifying that developers in the port area must adhere to the city’s current land use ordinances. No longer would the port authority have the ultimate power to hear or approve city land use appeals under the bill, Gibson said.
“It’s a big win for the city,” Gibson told the Deseret News in an interview. “It’s a big give from us.”
Gibson said the appeal issue was a “big sticking point” for former Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski.
“So we’ve agreed to that as long as (Mendenhall) agreed to all of the current zoning out there that the city approved,” Gibson said. “Those rights will be vested and can never be changed.”
Additionally, the bill would give the Salt Lake City mayor, or her designee, a seat on the board, though it would keep it an 11-member board.
It would also give the Salt Lake County mayor, the Salt Lake County Council, and the mayor of Magna Township, or their designees, direct appointments on the board, and in turn removes the seats for executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation and the director of the Salt Lake County Office of Regional Economic Development to serve as technical advisers.
Gibson said there’s “no hatchet to bury” with Mendenhall, and he’s intent on continuing to work well with her. But as far as groups like Stop the Polluting Port, which have been calling on lawmakers to “repeal the port” entirely, Gibson said that’s simply not going to happen.
“There are some people who think that the only way to win is to not have the inland port,” Gibson said. “That’s not an option. The other option is how do we work with the city to try and provide a port that is environmentally sensitive. How do we try to provide a port that causes the least amount of damage possible, or what’s perceived to be negative impact. … So we’ll continue to work toward that.”
Mendenhall told the Deseret News the bill is …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News