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Pledging Changes, Gov. Herbert Signs Controversial Inland Port Bill

Pool photo / Deseret News

Utah will get an inland port authority to oversee development of a commercial trade hub in Northwest Salt Lake City. Gov. Gary Herbert signed the legislation on Friday.

“An international port will have a positive economic impact regionally, therefore it is fitting that this authority be a creation of the State,” Herbert said in a letter to House Speaker Greg Hughes and Senate Pres. Wayne Niederhauser.

The Utah Inland Port Authority will guide development of more than 20,000 acres, most of it within Salt Lake City boundaries.

City leaders wanted Herbert to veto the legislation, calling it a “land grab.” Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said she and other city leaders didn’t get enough input before the bill was pushed through in the final week of the session.

In a statement, Biskpuski said she was "disappointed" that the governor signed the bill.

"It’s very unfortunate,"the mayor said earlier this week of the legislation. "We spent two years preparing the northwest quadrant for the inland port."

In the letter, Herbert said he would call a special legislative session “in the coming months” so lawmakers can make some fixes to the bill. They could include changes to the port authority’s boundaries and taxing authority as well as clarification to the state’s land use laws. Herbert also suggested shifting one of the 11 board positions to be appointed by the Salt Lake City mayor.

“Although the bill is not yet perfect, it does allow the state and local governments to move forward on this significant project,” Herbert said.

Biskupski "appreciates  [Herbert's] willingness to call a special session" and said she remains "committed to an inland port moving forward quickly and successfully."

Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, who sponsored the bill, said he wanted to fill the board and begin planning development of the Northwest quadrant as soon as this summer.

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