Utah lawmakers want to create a commercial trading hub in Salt Lake City. They approved a bill late in the legislative session to oversee that and broader development of 20,000 acres in the city’s northwest quadrant.
Salt Lake City leaders have a similar goal, but say the legislation usurps their taxing and land use authority.
Mayor Jackie Biskupski has a lot of issues with the inland port bill, including that the final version was unveiled around 9:30 p.m. on the second-to-last day of the session, then pushed through with little debate.
“There certainly wasn’t time to have any public input or be able to really stop the bill. It was fast-tracked intentionally,” she said.
The mayor also dislikes the makeup of the 11-person governing board, which includes twice as many state-appointed members as city-appointed.
“It’s very unfortunate,” Biskupski said of the bill. “We spent two years preparing the northwest quadrant for the inland port,” including zoning, creating a Community Reinvestment area and planning for environmental and infrastructure needs.
Biskupski and other city leaders are calling for a veto. But that looks unlikely, even after Gov. Gary Herbert reached out to the mayor this week to hear her concerns.
Last week the governor said developing a national trade hub is bigger than just one city.
“It’s going to take all of us working together to have a significant opportunity as the crossroads of the West to have an inland port.”
“There are times when the state has to step in and probably exercise their ability to control the outcome,” the governor continued. “I know sometimes cities and counties don’t like that, but (it’s) a necessary part of getting the better outcome on behalf of the taxpayer.”
Biskupski says she plans to meet with Herbert about the issue in the coming days. He has until March 28 to decide whether he will sign or veto the legislation.