FARMINGTON — There’s no plan to buy land that is in a Farmington conservation easement area, says County Commissioner John Petroff.
“Two to three weeks ago we (commissioners) deferred taxes on Buffalo Ranches for one more year,” he said of the parcel in question. “They were five years behind, would’ve come up for sale because of taxes.”
That decision was made, Petroff said, “...because it’s virtually impossible for them to sell their property when there’s the potential for the (West Davis) Corridor to go through there.”
The commissioner was responding to a letter from Farmington Mayor Jim Talbot that said purchase of Buffalo Ranches was being considered at a Council of Governments sub-committee meeting earlier this month.
“This piece of property is not up for sale. We’re not considering that piece of property at all” for purchase, Petroff said.
That property was excluded when a meeting of potential properties to buy on the corridor was discussed, he said.
“The very first thing I did before the mayor got there (mayor was reportedly late), I made the recommendation to the rest of the committee to exclude that one completely. We don’t know if the corridor is going to go there,” Petroff said.
“The letter is completely misleading. It’s not even coming up” for discussion, he said.
Talbot said he votes “no on this proposed acquisition” and to any others that were presented at the meeting.
“I am aware no vote was taken but I want to be on record as opposing this effort to navigate around an EIS (environmental impact statement) process and then allow UDOT to later say they had the support of the Council of Governments in buying corridor property,” the mayor wrote.
“What I feel is Farmington doesn’t want the road to go to the west,” Petroff said. “The rest of us (other mayors, etc.) have tried to follow the process of what the EIS folks are trying to do. We’ve kept our nose out of it.
“We’re looking to buy property where we know there is no debate as to where the alignment would go,” he said. “Almost all of the money (for land purchase) would be spent in Kaysville north.”
“There’s so much of a microscope on this project, as there should be,” Farmington City Manager Dave Millheim said. “We’re concerned that buying property outside of full public process and a completed EIS with an identified ROW (right-of-way) is not being challenged by anybody.”
“I haven’t seen anything at the moment that leads me to think anyone is going outside the bounds of a well-established process,” said County Commissioner Bret Millburn. He is chair of the Wasatch Front Regional Council, a transportation-planning body.
“We’ve been very engaged from a WFRC perspective, supportive of the process that is in place continue to be engaged in dialogue,” he said.
“I’ve had some good discussions with the mayor (Talbot),” Millburn said. “Maybe there are differences of opinion as we work through things. That’s why we continue dialogue.”
“UDOT has stepped back, given additional time for public comment, to analyze responses they’ve received,” he said. “They’ve adjusted their time line and are trying to be as accommodating as possible.”