Utah's School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration has received a $950,000 payment as part of settlement of a years-long dispute between the state and developer James Doyle.
The state division received the payment in mid-February as part of a 1996 legal settlement between the the Utah Board of Education and Doyle, now principal owner of Environmental Land Technology Ltd., according to a trust lands administration announcement Monday."We are . . . excited to be getting the settlement payments that we believe we deserve out of the settlement of that litigation," said the division's Director David Terry.
The payment will be deposited in the permanent State School Fund to be used to support Utah's public schools.
In 1993, the Utah Board of Education sued Doyle to set aside his purchase of 2,400 acres of school trust lands in St. George.
Shortly after the sale, the lands were designated as critical habitat for the Desert Tortoise, a threatened species. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management now plans to acquire about 1,800 acres of the disputed lands as part of the Mojave Desert Tortoise Habitat Preserve.
According to the lawsuit, legislation passed by the Utah Legislature in 1988 - which required the state to sell Doyle land - allowed him to get prime development land far below its true market value in violation of the state constitution.
To settle the lawsuit, Doyle and his company agreed to pay the trust lands administration 30 percent of proceeds from selling or exchanging lands to the BLM, up until the trust lands receive $3 million. The trust lands will also get 12.5 percent of additional proceeds.
Trust land officials estimate the settlement will eventually bring $3 million to $5 million into the permanent State School Fund.
Doyle recently sold 213 acres to the BLM for $3.3 million, which resulted in payment of $950,000 to the trust lands administration under the settlement agreement.