Another Utah Inland Port Authority boondoggle:
Proposed Tooele County Inland Port warehouse districts are not in the public interest
Inland Port urges Grantsville City Council to support “Fast tracking growth” in Tooele County by giving big tax breaks to warehouse developers
The Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA) is planning to create 2 Inland Port Project Areas in Tooele County. These project areas will enable UIPA to offer significant tax breaks and other financial help to industrial developers (the Romney Group and Zenith Bollinder LLC). As a Port Authority staffer said to the Grantsville City Council, it will result in "fast tracking growth in your community."(Grantsville City Council meeting Sept. 6, 2023 at 9:36) UIPA is expected to have the first discussion of the Tooele Inland Ports proposal at their board meeting on October 4, at 2 pm in Milford.
What’s the Romney Group planning in Grantsville?
Details are sketchy in terms of what is actually planned (this is a pattern with the Port Authority), however based on statements made by the Romney Group representative at the Sept 6 Grantsville City Council meeting, they are seeking approval of a 370 acre project area to support industrial development and a 120 acre project area to support residential development (putting residential housing next to polluting warehouses is a terrible idea).
Here’s a map of their whole area - which they plan will include 25 million square feet of new warehouse space. It's also worth noting that other Utah developers are planning to build warehouse space in the vicinity of the Lakeview Business Park.
What’s the latest news?
What are the issues?
UIPA is poised to commit public money to help private businesses create a giant warehouse district that will increase truck traffic, traffic congestion, pollution (air, noise, light and water), deplete water resources, create a giant urban heat island, and destroy open space in Grantsville. Seventy-five percent of future new tax revenue would go to UIPA and 25% to other taxing entities. The public hasn’t seen a budget for this yet.
Grantsville City Council members had questions about how the whole process works and were told by UIPA staffer Scott Wolford that the tax increment going to UIPA will pay for “fast tracking growth in your community.” Wolford said developers need help building infrastructure on open space properties because it would hurt their bottom line if they had to pay for infrastructure themselves. He also reiterated that this would “Jump start you by twenty years.” And, he used the word “cheating” frequently to describe how the process worked.
In response to a question from a Grantsville Council Member about the project area creating environmental harm, Wolford was dismissive. He said UIPA wouldn’t have any responsibility for environmental harm caused by the industrial development, notwithstanding that UIPA’s whole purpose is to enable and accelerate it with public subsidies.
What does the public get in return?
Diminished quality of life, traffic congestion, pollution of all sorts, loss of open space, a giant urban heat island, and the list goes on.
Where will the water come from?
What does fast tracking over 25 million square feet of new industrial development do to water supplies in Tooele County?
Tooele County is facing serious water issues. Tooele County residents get their water from wells, and the wells are being depleted. In a Sept 18, 2023 Salt Lake Tribune article Tooele County Commissioner Scott Wardle said:
“... to meet the economic demands for economic growth…we have to develop water resources that will be sustainable in the next 50 years.”
How does fast tracking massive new industrial development with public subsidies impact water resources for the people of Tooele County? How will the people of Grantsville be impacted?
These questions need to be answered.
What YOU can do to Stop the Grantsville Inland Port:
Contact members of the Grantsville City Council:
Two Council Members - Jewel Allen and Jolene Jenkins, specifically asked about voting to withdraw their support for the Grantsville Inland Port in the future. They were told they could do that.
So let's ask the Grantsville City Council not to support this boondoggle benefiting a few private business interests at the expense of quality of life and health in Grantsville, Tooele County and northern Utah. There is certainly no need to rush. Warn them about the Salt Lake City and County experience - we’re five and a half years into an “inland port” and what is being built is a giant polluting warehouse district.
Here are their email addresses:
Jewel Allen firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Bevan – email@example.com
Jeff Hutchins - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jolene Jenkins – email@example.com
Darrin Rowberry – firstname.lastname@example.org
What's happening with the proposed Zenith Bolinder Inland Port?
On April 11, in a 4-1 vote the Tooele County Council passed a resolution supporting creation of an inland port project area. Very few details were discussed in the meeting. Here's a Salt Lake Tribune article with more information.
The proposed project area is owned by a company called Zenith Bolinder LLC (recently incorporated in Delaware). The “Zenith” of Zenith Bolinder seems to be Zenith Development and the “Bolinder” appears to be the family of State Representative Bridger Bolinder (it looks like he might have sold his ownership stake in the property last year, but it appears his family is still involved).
The other property owner in this “phase” of project area designation is the Trust Lands Administration (formerly known as SITLA). TLA’s property contains a significant portion of high-functioning Great Salt Lake wetlands.
Both proposed project areas are seeking a rail connection to their development built by Savage Tooele Rail a subsidiary of Savage Services. They have been seeking approval to rebuild an old rail line that connects to the property from the mainline of the Union Pacific. The old rail line also connects to the proposed Tooele Inland Port Project Area.
Two of the developers seeking to make a profit from industrial development in Tooele County have relatives who are elected officials - State Representative Bridger Bolinder, and Josh Romney, son of US Senator Mitt Romney.
No business case for why the proposed Tooele County Inland Ports should be subsidized by the taxpayers has been presented to the taxpayers.
If built, the proposed Tooele Inland Port would destroy high functioning wetlands and put more pressure on the dying Great Salt Lake. It would damage air quality, increase traffic congestion, destroy roads and create danger from heavy trucks. In short it would destroy quality of life in Tooele County. Taxpayer money should not be used to benefit a few developers at the expense of public health.
Not only would residents of Tooele County be hurt by this, but so would people throughout northern Utah who would suffer from the degradation of our air shed, destruction of critical wildlife habitat increasing the stress on migratory birds, and increased polluting and dangerous truck traffic.