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Three Davis cities unite for development
by Tom Busselberg
May 02, 2007 | 316 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
None of the three city halls are being put up for sale.

Rather, a development plan in its infancy is seen by city leaders of Clearfield, Syracuse and West Point as a way to pool land resources, share in tax and other benefits, while bringing higher paying jobs and other growth to the area. The Davis Economic Development Cooperative, or DEDC, was first conceived by former Syracuse city planner and now city administrator Roger Wortham.

"It's going to be very exciting," said Syracuse mayor Fred Panucci. "We have three cities that are willing to work together. This could provide a real economic engine for Davis County."

He explained that there are two kinds of economic development: retail, and job creation.

"We are trying to develop a central place for job creation. It would be high paying jobs that will start to support all the retail" development, Panucci said.

"I'm very pleased with West Point and Clearfield. We've all worked together really well toward a common goal. That's when things happen. We're looking to do revenue sharing," the Syracuse mayor said. "That makes a win for everybody."

While still in a "very preliminary" stage, Clearfield city manager Chris Hillman said a plan is being forged that would allow the three cities to share in sales tax revenue generated by new job creation sites. That way, no city would have to feel the need to go after a big box or some other high tax generator, at the expense of other cities.

"It's been a thing we've always looked to do in our general plan," said Syracuse city administrator Wortham. "We have a master plan for the area in Syracuse, but never pursued its (plats) creation. If you put it all together, it's a square mile and a quarter."

That makes the Syracuse share about 800 acres. More than 1,000 acres are envisioned in the development area. There would be about 250 acres in West Point and 100 or so acres in Clearfield.

The majority of the property in question is from 700 South in Syracuse, north, to 200 South, which connects to Clearfield. That street eventually is planned as a direct route to a future Legacy North Highway.

"We're working with the property owners, EDCU (Economic Development Corporation of Utah), GOED (Governor's Office of Economic Development) and Davis County Economic Development," said Rick Davis, West Point city manager.

A meeting involving all of those parties, plus city council members and other city officials from all three cities, was held recently. The largest landowner is the LDS Church, through its Property Reserve development arm.

"We've already had interest from a clean industry," said Davis. "They (as yet unnamed company) would take up to 200 acres, have jobs that would pay between $50,000 and $70,000 a year.

"That would provide the biggest employment influx, would set us on fire," he said.

Clearfield's portion would include 50-75 acres owned by the Freeport Center, plus 70 acres on the city's South State Street that is where the city's commuter rail stop is slated to go.

"We love the idea. Nowhere is there is a central employment center," said Hillman, beyond Hill Air Force Base and the Freeport Center. "People have to drive pretty far to work."

Davis said the average commute time for a West Point resident is 28 minutes. "We'd like to cut that in half."

A lot needs to happen to assemble all of the pieces, among them road widening and other infrastructure improvements to handle such growth. That includes efforts by West Point mayor John Petroff, who leads the Wasatch Front Regional Council transportation planning organization this year.

"We've got to come up with some kind of proposal that all (cities) can agree with. It's very young, there's a lot of work to do," Wortham said.

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