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Utah Inland Port Authority votes to approve West Weber Project Area Plan | News, sports, jobs


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Ben Hart, executive director of the Utah Inland Port Authority, speaks to the media during a tour of the West Weber Inland Port project area prior to the vote on its creation on Monday, May 20, 2024.

Ryan Aston, Standards Examiner

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Part of the West Weber Inland Port project area, near 900 S. 8300 West, photographed on Monday, May 20, 2024.

Ryan Aston, Standards Examiner

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Part of the West Weber Inland Port project area, near 900 S. 8300 West, photographed on Monday, May 20, 2024.

Ryan Aston, Standards Examiner

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SALT LAKE CITY — Development of an inland port in the West Weber corridor near the Great Salt Lake is officially moving forward.

The Utah Inland Port Authority voted Monday during a board meeting at the Utah State Capitol to adopt a plan designating an approximately 9,000-acre project area in Weber County for the construction of an inland port. It will be the ninth satellite port area in the state.

Opponents have argued that development of the sparsely populated area will have a negative impact on the area’s wetlands and wildlife, as well as air quality across the region. Additional concerns have also been raised about the lake, other natural and cultural resources, and the project’s public financing.

However, Weber County and UIPA officials have noted that the project area, which is largely made up of unincorporated private property, has been zoned for industrial use for decades. They claim that by setting up the inland port project, the management of smart, sustainable development can be ensured.

“I think many people have the feeling: if the inland port disappears, this will all remain the same. That is not true,” UIPA director Ben Hart said during a media tour ahead of the board meeting.

“The individual landowners here are ready to develop. This will develop with or without the Inland Port Authority. The benefits we can provide, firstly, is the protection of wetlands, (and) secondly, much better logistics. Many logistical improvements will be needed here in this area to accommodate growth. But thirdly: how do we get the right forms of economic growth? We believe that these advantages are unique to the inland port.”

Before the vote, officials mentioned mandatory buffer zones between development areas and sensitive areas: i.e. wetlands and wildlife and waterfowl management areas. It was noted that stakeholders, including the UIPA, would work with landowners to create conservation easements.

In addition, 3% of the port’s tax differential will be earmarked for wetland control.

Creating jobs, infrastructure and new tax revenue for Weber County was also touted by advocates ahead of Monday’s vote. However, during the meeting’s public comment session, speakers reiterated environmental concerns. And demonstrators were present at the Capitol during the rally.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Russell – Weber County Economic Development Director – continues to argue that the West Weber General Plan, created by the Weber County Commission, will encourage the development and management of the industry in a proactive and environmentally friendly manner.

“The Commission has put in place precise mechanisms to scrutinize the influx of development proposals and projects,” Russell said in a statement released after the vote. “Their goal is to ensure that only the most appropriate projects are chosen and supported, with each project contributing to the economic and environmental sustainability not only of the West Weber corridor, but of Northern Utah as a whole.”

Regarding air quality, Russell told the Standard-Examiner last week that the area’s nonattainment status — a designation given by the Environmental Protection Agency to areas that consistently fail to meet national air quality standards — makes it impossible for major polluters to be part of air quality. of the inland port project.

“We can’t recruit companies that pollute the air,” Russell said. “If they have pollutants or are even slightly above a certain level, they have to invest millions of dollars in filtration, not only to address their air problems, but to address the area. So everything we put out there will have a regulatory component that requires them to clean the air.

The West Weber Project Area Plan can be viewed online at https://tinyurl.com/36c44wzu.



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