CLEARFIELD — At a public hearing Wednesday about a proposal to sell Utah Transit Authority property at the Clearfield FrontRunner station for a train assembly plant, concerns about a former board member's involvement in the project never came up.
Last month, UTA trustees put the deal on hold after questions were raised about the impact of a company owned by Sheldon Killpack, a trustee in 2015, building the plant on the agency's nonprosecution agreement with federal prosecutors.
That agreement, announced by U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber in April, requires UTA to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation into transit development deals and other issues as well as submit to up to three years of federal monitoring.
A dozen people at the public hearing spoke in favor of the proposed Stadler Rail plant expected to provide 1,000 jobs. Martin Ritter, president and CEO of the Swiss company's U.S. subsidy, told trustees that local officials have been great partners.
After the hearing, Ritter suggested the federal investigation may be having an affect, but said Stadler has not been contacted in connection with the probe that has lead to charges against another former UTA board member, Terry Diehl.
"We learned about this federal investigation roughly three weeks ago when it became public there was one," he said. "Over the last couple of weeks we had to realize it doesn't make it easier, especially about this site."
Killpack's construction company, One West, is doing pre-construction work for the $30 million plant, Ritter said, and Stadler is doing its due diligence to "make sure we don't make a decision we won't support in the future."
Clearfield is the favorite site because it has the best public transportation access, he said, but a site in West Jordan and three sites near the Salt Lake City International Airport are also being considered, along with locations in Texas and Georgia.
UTA's presentation at the public hearing focused on whether a portion of the 70-acre site should be removed from the agency's transit-oriented development plan and sold to Clearfield for the assembly plant, and did not mention Killpack.
"I don't know that any of the citizens here would understand any of that at this point. And we don't know enough about that yet," Sherrie Hall Everett, the board's vice chairwoman, said after the hearing.
She said backers of the Clearfield project will have to "stay tuned" because the board has to determine UTA's oversight, including whether Killpack's involvement is outside the required one-year wait for doing business with former trustees.
UTA attorney Jayme Blakesley said after the hearing the issue will be considered at the May 24 board meeting, when trustees are expected to vote on selling about 28 acres of the site to Clearfield, with an option for another 8.75 acres for Stadler.
Blakesley said he has received information from Clearfield and Davis County that confirms Killpack's involvement in the project but not his continuing relationship with the Swiss-owned rail company.
Killpack was one of two UTA trustees who resigned after taking a trip to Switzerland to meet with Stadler representatives in September 2015 that resulted in a competitive bid process by the agency being canceled and then re-bid.
He was also invited as a trustee to bid on a hotel project at a South Jordan transit development by the Thackery Garn Co., now building apartments on a portion of the Clearfield site as part of a settlement with UTA.