Posts Tagged ‘Vineyard’
I attended the meeting at Vineyard the other night along with about 50-60 other citizens. I will start out by giving the mayor props for how he handled the meeting. He seems like a really genuine individual and I think everyone appreciated his openness. The rest of the council looked like whupped puppies for most of the meeting, never looking up unless someone spoke in favor of the RDA. I think they were stunned by the recent reaction to what’s been happening and the mayor asked several times why people are just now getting excited about this when it’s been posted on public notice websites and the press for a long time. I didn’t even know there was a public notice website but Wendy Hart sent me a link and I guess we’ll have to start frequenting it to know what’s going on.
Mr. Anderson, one of the developers, was there and said the property could be sold right now for $100 million to a toilet paper manufacturer but he had spoken with an economist from the University of Utah (I think) who said the property would be worth $3 billion if it was planned out properly. Dave Duncan then replied he ought to sell to the toilet paper manufacturer if he could make that much money and that if the property was really potentially worth $3 billion when built out properly, the developer should put together private money interested in doing it and not put this RDA on taxpayers. (Hope my memory is right on that Dave :))
One thing about the meeting that was very evident, is that there is a lot of misinformation that has been put out there. Whether by the press or the “telephone game,” I think everyone was wishing they had more facts about what’s been going on and how this all works. I strongly suggest everyone read Thomas Sowell’s article on RDA’s as it fully supports what Dave said above.
Larry Ellertson was there from the Utah County Commission and said his vote to pass the RDA was a conditional yes, wanting to make sure Alpine School District was satisfied with the deal. Since they weren’t, and ASD’s attorney was there to let them know they weren’t, then he implied his vote wasn’t really a yes till they worked it out with ASD.
I don’t know what can be done at this point. I wish I understood more about this type of stuff, but I think the complexity hurts citizens because we’re so unfamiliar with it. On principle I think RDA’s should be banned. I agree with Dave’s comment that the market can decide how land gets used. If someone wants to seize an economic opportunity, let them. I think we may have some responsibility to clean up the site, but not to fund infrastructure and development. Let an enterprising developer do that with private money.
Here is Fox-13′s news report.
DO YOU LIVE IN UTAH COUNTY? BE AT THE VINEYARD TOWN HALL AT 7 PM WEDNESDAY NIGHT UNLESS YOU WANT A 35 YEAR PROPERTY TAX INCREASE TO ENRICH SOME DEVELOPERS. (Vineyard meeting moved tonight due to expected size. Go to Vineyard Elementary School ; 620 East Holdaway Road (400 South) at 7 PM)
Last week at work, a co-worker handed me a few interesting news articles. There’s been some odd happenings with the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in the past which triggered requests for an audit last year. A number things don’t make sense to me right now but some people are looking into this in the hopes of making sense of it.
Over a month ago there was a vote to approve a redevelopment agency in Vineyard. There were 2 parts: one to clean up Geneva’s site, and another for massive tax breaks for the developers over 35-40 years which would prevent (depending on who you talk to) perhaps $200 million from flowing into Alpine School District to cover costs of dealing with many students moving into Vineyard. As I previously blogged, I agree that the cleanup is probably appropriate, but tax breaks for developers after that is absolutely wrong. Let the market decide how that land gets developed.
Utah county commissioner Larry Ellertson was one of the members of this committee who voted in favor of giving huge tax breaks to the developers of the Vineyard RDA. I mention him in particular since he’s mentioned below in the news articles I’ve posted snips from below.
Vineyard is to receive a TRAX or FrontRunner station through UTA as part of this deal. Why UTA and these RDA’s are popping up together is something that I haven’t put the dots together on but I think it’s something we should all be interested in.
If any of you don’t really know what a “redevelopment” project is, Thomas Sowell recently wrote an article which the Deseret News carried explaining the problem with redevelopments which was really enlightening for me. I highly recommend you read this article and then look at the pictures below from the Sandy TRAX station redevelopment agency which is now just an eyesore. Based on Sandy’s TRAX project, and the fact below that some of the Geneva/Vineyard principals have defaulted on a loan in Vineyard and are trying to escape the personal guarantee’s of $36 million, and then in the next article saying if the project is approved they’ll put $600 million into the project, it all seems a bit fishy to me and not at all worth the risk. (not to mention the tax breaks)
Sandy TRAX RDA pics
Here are the articles:
April 29, 2010
UTA facing big cuts. Already made $11 million in budget cuts. However…
“UTA board chairman Larry Ellertson tells the Salt Lake Tribune the new CEO position being created for general manager John Inglish — for which he will be paid close to $300,000 a year — is in fact his severance after 32 years with the agency.”
That’s interesting…someone gets longevity severance??? How much does the Governor make? We can’t find a “public servant” for less than this?
May 19, 2010 (VIDEO NEWS CLIP)
This is interesting. Bruce Jones, UTA’s lawyer, is a member of the Cottonwood Heights city council. Jones lobbied on behalf of Terry Diehl for a TRAX stop next to a development owned by Diehl. Diehl is on the UTA board and determines Jone’s pay. Jones received an $80,000 raise in one year though I can’t tell from the article if it was before or after Jones’ lobbying efforts.
Jan 20, 2011
Anderson Geneva Development purchased the Geneva land in 2005 after Geneva closed in 2001. Anderson has spent $20 million to clean it up and another $4 million on improvements. A $300 million plan was approved for this site and is planned to have a UTA FrontRunner and TRAX transit hub located there.
Feb. 22, 2011
Anderson Development is walking away from a $36.4 million loan from America First Credit Union. AFCU isn’t happy about it and is suing Gerald Anderson and Michael Hutchings who personally guaranteed the loan. Anderson has a $10 million commitment to Vineyard to build an overpass, fire station and water tank.
Mar. 17, 2011 (VIDEO NEWS CLIP)
Hutchings says his company will pledge $600 million on the project if the URA deal goes through to raise taxes on Utah county residents.
My question is, if they’re walking away from a $36 million commitment, how do we have any proof they will follow through on a $600 million pledge? Just to be sure no one ties this into the Sandy TRAX RDA above, I have no idea if these people were involved on that project.
Mar. 17, 2011
“The Alpine School District and Utah Taxpayers Association don’t want to see public money used to fund part of the $900 million-plus makeover planned for the former Geneva Steel property.
And they may take legal action to keep it from happening.
…If the project is approved next week by the town RDA, homeowners living within the Alpine School District boundaries would see a property tax increase of between $14 and $17 per year — based on the average home price of $230,000 — for 35 years.
School district officials also are worried about the 400-plus acres of residential construction in Anderson Development’s plans. Property taxes on the homes, Bromley says, would not pay for the full cost of educating the number of students such growth would bring.”
I would support ASD doing this.
***AMEN*** Mar. 19, 2011 (Editorial)
“[Vineyard] City leaders ought to reject this, at least at the amount proposed, for a variety of reasons. While it may be legitimate to use tax money to clean the blighted site of the old steel mill, or to attract businesses that bring new people to the state, the free market, not tax subsidies, ought to determine most of what goes on that site.
Instead, the proposal would leave the Alpine School District shortchanged. That is because part of the subsidy would come from money that normally goes to schools. It would be tied up for 35 years while new housing adds to the burden of students who need to be taught.
…If Utah County has a demand for housing, shopping or businesses, the market should decide where they go, and they should contribute taxes to the programs and agencies that serve them. For Vineyard to give any more than what it would take to clean the Geneva Steel site would be wrong.”
In summary, there are a lot of odd things happening here and although I don’t have the connections crystal clear, it’s troubling enough that some investigations ought to happen and at a minimum, the previous vote needs overturned Wednesday night.