BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL — A decision on the West Davis Corridor route isn’t expected until next spring, but the Utah Department of Transportation has purchased land from four owners totaling 167 acres through its corridor preservation process.
The Utah Transportation Commission approved the purchase, worth close to $5.77 million, at the commission’s meeting in Logan earlier this month. This despite the fact that there’s no way to know whether the land will be used for the road.
The property was purchased through the state’s corridor preservation program, which allows UDOT to purchase land statewide in advance of a project to preserve future transportation corridors.
“The corridor preservation program minimizes the impacts” to cities and landowners, West Davis Corridor project manager Randy Jefferies said. “If the no-build option or another route is chosen, the land will be sold, either to the original owners or to someone else.”
UDOT does not proactively seek properties to purchase, Jefferies said.
Instead, property owners who have land along a proposed route can contact UDOT to see if the transportation agency has the means to buy from them, Jefferies said.
“Many of these property owners are developers who hear about the program through the cities,” Jefferies said. “They contact us because they don’t want to develop the land into subdivisions only to have the homes torn down later.”
The purchase of the land will in no way affect the decision on the route to be chosen.
“The environmental process is completely independent of the land purchases,” Jefferies said.
The land to be purchased includes three parcels totaling 32 acres at approximately 2015 S. 2000 West in Syracuse, for $1,883,000, according to documents provided by the commission. It is vacant land owned by Stonefield Inc., and is in UDOT’s preferred alignment of the corridor.
Another piece of property encompasses approximately 29.5 acres between 1300 North and 800 North at approximately 4200 West in West Point. The property is vacant and owned by Mile Schulz and Hamblin Investments. The purchase price for the land, also in UDOT’s preferred alignment, will be $1,800,000.
The third property, comprising 99.25 acres, is at approximately 2000 West Gentile Street in Syracuse. The property is owned by Syracuse City and is under contract to Brighton Homes and Irben Development. Just more than 12 acres of the land is within the corridor’s potential footprint and another 8.6 acres would be damaged by the project if a relevant route is chosen. The property has preliminary approval for cluster homes.
The fourth purchase was of a 6.53-acre property zoned for industrial use at approximately 1773 W. 200 North in Kaysville. The purchase price will be $718,500. The land is also within UDOT’s preferred alignment.
UDOT’s preferred alternative, which would go near Farmington’s Glover Lane and, would demolish 26 homes and five businesses.
“But we had some alternatives that impacted hundreds of homes,” Jefferies said. “We’ve been careful to minimize the impacts around houses, business, farms and wetlands.”
UDOT is reviewing 1,600 public comments about its proposed route. The department will address those comments in its final Environmental Impact Statement, which will ultimately be approved or rejected by the Federal Highway
The target for its release is spring of 2014, but that may change depending on what the comments reveal, he said.
Several environmental and citizen groups oppose UDOT’s preferred alternative, and Farmington City, the Department of the Interior and most recently, the Environmental Protection Agency, have criticized it publicly. Others oppose construction of any highway and have asked the state look at a no-build solution called the Shared Solution.