Vineyard Meeting Results

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.


6 Responses to “Vineyard Meeting Results”

  • Buffy Snell:

    Great article Oak. You summed up the meeting nicely. And Kudos to Dave Duncon for his ability to express a good argument against RDAs. We need to let the private sector and the free market do their job.

  • EDB:

    Thanks Oak for the report. I feel sorry for the Vineyard City Council; good folks being railroaded by a developer. As for our late response, what citizen in Highland would have thought our school system would be impacted by the cleaning up of a dump in Vineyard. I’ve come to believe that if “it” is “complex”, it is probably evil. The “simple truth” takes on new meaning. Ed

  • milld:

    Thanks Oak! You do a great job of explaining this and thanks for Sowell’s article. It was very enlightening.

  • I think statement that “it’s complex” is often an excuse used by those involved when they don’t want to explain a situation where they know that they don’t have the moral high ground. I loved how many times the mayor tried to compare this RDA to worse RDA’s–especially that this one is less money per acre than most of them.

    Of course, I’m simply opposed to RDA’s on principle, so telling me this RDA isn’t “as bad” as most, doesn’t make me feel that good about it. This is something the market can, and should, sort out. If there is clean up on the site that HAS to be done (which there undoubtedly is), then the developer should have assessed that, and figured it into the cost of purchasing and developing the property. If he underestimated, or the economy dipped (or both), then taxpayers should not have to bear the brunt of that. He should sell the property (at a loss, if necessary, or let it foreclose), and someone else will buy it for much less, and be able to develop it more easily, since they haven’t taken a huge loss on it. An obligation to clean it up, can and should be built into the price (just as it should have been taken into account when Anderson purchased it before the recession began).

    At one point in the meeting, Mr. Anderson, stood to straighten out the record, and then proceeded to tell us that the site could be worth $3 Billion, and yet he’s apparently reluctant (or unable) to spend 5% of that amount ($150 Million) to get things going, unless he has a donation from government. Pardon me if I’m incredulous! If what he said is true, he should have no trouble securing bank loans, or attracting private investors. I’m guessing that since the money isn’t flocking to him, that $3 Billion estimate may just be a tad optimistic.

    The worst thing about these deals is that we later find out that much MORE money is needed than originally expected. See the city of Orem’s commitment to Utopia, which was supposed to be self sustaining, then just needed an infusion of a few million in “guarantees”, and now has us on the hook for $50 Million, and possibly (probably) more.

    I predict that once this RDA begins, there will be an inclination to spend the money on the easiest-to-develop portions of the site. Then we will later find out that they can’t do clean up and development on the rest until hundreds of millions more are “invested” in clean up. Meanwhile, the developer can just go ahead and develop the clean portions of the site with it’s own money, right now, if it really makes any financial sense to do so.

    Sad thing is that Vineyard is being led down a primrose path here, and being extorted, almost, in that Anderson acts like it won’t even develop the clean parts of the site, unless they get the RDA money, first.

  • The_Patriot:

    It’s nice to finally see Oak taking up an issue worth fighting for. This is a much more worthy cause than his new push to get the state to teach students about his made up “compound constitutional republic” term.

  • FYI, it was Ken Ivory who amended Mike Morley’s HB 220 to insert “compound” and he got the phrase from James Madison. See the new home page of the site for an explanation.