Mack Huntington, planning and zoning commission chairman along with Judy Scott.
The Emery County Planning and Zoning commission held their September meeting in Green River along with a public hearing. The public hearing was to receive input on the proposed zoning change for the Mancos Hills Industrial Park. The area being considered for the park is currently zoned, MGandR which is mining, grazing and recreation. The proposed change is to rezone to an I-Industrial Zone. Michael McCandless is the planning and zoning department director. He explained the purpose behind the request for a zoning change. "Emery County has obtained the development rights from the State Institutional Trustlands Administration for a 2,547 acre industrial park. Surrounding this property is approximately 800 acres of private property owned by a variety of owners. The remaining property is managed by the BLM.
"This development will connect to the town of Green River through a new road, constructed on the north side of the Union Pacific Railroad line. The development will also include a culinary water line, tied back to the town of Green River. It is envisioned, that at some point in the future, Green River may have interest in annexing the development into the city limits. "Although the current zoning allows for heavy industry projects under a Level 3 conditional use permit, marketing the industrial park is difficult with current zoning. Also MGandR zoning has different basis for decisions that may be compatible with industrial uses in this area. Development within the area enables increase in property tax values as development occurs because the property being developed is currently state owned and generates no taxes. "An additional reason for rezoning to industrial is to ensure that only industrial businesses locate within the park. Hotels, restaurants and truck stops are not permitted uses for the industrial zone. Green River City desires those types of businesses in town. MGandR is unclear about many of those other uses," said McCandless.
McCandless said Green River is an ideal location for trucking because it is less than 11-13 hours from major destinations like Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Boise and Denver. US-6 is the busiest road for interstate truck traffic in Utah. "In addition, it is a bulls eye for projects that can take advantage of Union Pacific. Railroad has become more attractive with fuel costs what they are. Rail traffic is classified by red, yellow or green sections. In a red section no new cars are available, in a yellow they would consider it, but a green section would allow for access. In Utah, only the Provo to Grand Junction line is a green light section. There is no access along the I-15 corridor. We have a unique opportunity because of where Green River lies," said McCandless.
John Urgo representing the environmental group HEAL Utah wondered how much of SITLA land is available for other projects. McCandless said right now there is interest from two entities. The only company that has put down money to secure their spot in the industrial park is Mancos Resources for a total of 640 acres for their uranium milling plant. Urgo was interested in how the process takes place. McCandless said prior to making an application the company must secure all other permitting for their project. There are preapplication requirements which must be met. Only complete packages will be accepted. McCandless said there are five private land owners in the area who have been very supportive of the industrial park because it makes their property marketable.
Urgo spoke in favor of the industrial park. After the meeting he said the problem the environmental groups have would come with the kinds of industry which might be allowed into the park. They will fight that battle when it arises.
Sarah Fields from Moab spoke of the two entities who have shown interest in the park. Mancos Resources has new water 800 acre feet. The water point of diversion would be north of Green River on BLM and would be piped across. A hearing on this water with the Division of Water Rights was to be held Aug. 27, but has been postponed. Transition Power which has been looking at the site has secured a large quantity water, some from Kane County and some from San Juan and it is reported to be leased water. To secure this water a change application and a change in point of diversion must be filed and approved by the state engineer. Mack Huntington, board chairman said the county commission will have to approve of any projects that go into the industrial park through the conditional use process. The commission will have to approve the zoning change. The zoning commission is bound by state statute in the conduct this process.
Conae Black, Green River recorder spoke in favor of the zoning changes. Keith Brady, business owner and councilman in Green River spoke in favor of the zoning change. He appreciates the focus on infrastructure and keeping the downtown strong. He believes Green River can look at housing in the years it takes for an industry to develop in the industrial park. McCandless said right now the property the industrial park lies on is property that generates little to no taxes. If industry comes in and the property is transferred from public to private it can begin to generate tax dollars. Bill Adams, Green River citizen wondered about the depth of the water table at the site. McCandless said several drilling records have been obtained on the property and water is way down approximately 1,500 ft. He also wondered about water rights and said people have approached him about buying his water from the Green River to haul to St. George.
Robert Smith from the Green River planning and zoning commission said he agrees with the zoning change, but he was concerned the Green River planning and zoning commission hasn't been kept in the loop on this project. McCandless said contact with the city has been slow because the details of the project weren't specific enough to go to the city. They didn't want to make plans with the city before SITLA and the county had worked out the details. The Emery County planning and zoning commission agreed to take all the comments from the public hearing and study them and be prepared in their October meeting to make a decision on the rezoning. Their decision of the industrial park will be sent to the county commission.