A future business park may become fodder for the argument that the proposed Legacy Parkway will protect valuable wetlands while encouraging development within south Davis County cities.
As early as next spring, Terramerica Corp. plans to break ground on the development in the northwest corner of Centerville. Eventually, the business park will cover 150 acres, with space for approximately 60 lots.If the controversial Legacy Parkway receives approval under alignment C, the four-lane highway would pass the business park on its west side. However, if the Utah Department of Transportation cannot get approval for the current alignment and uses alternate route A, the highway would slice through the eastern portion of the development.
Some local officials point to this as proof that the 13-mile highway would stop westward development, thereby preserving many more wetlands in the future.
"The (Legacy) Parkway clearly would be a boundary for development," said Steve Thacker, Centerville city manager.
Although the backers of alignment C have defended their "line-in-the-sand" theory numerous times, this property gives that argument teeth.
Terramerica plans to develop the property, and Centerville plans to allow it to develop it, even if it means that the business park would land on the west side of the Legacy Parkway.
More importantly, this land represents the development potential that cities could lose if alternative C does not gain approval. Developers have estimated that this property alone, once fully developed, could mean $870,000 in annual property taxes.
"This is extremely important for Centerville," Thacker said.
Prior to next year's groundbreaking, however, numerous tasks need to be undertaken, including environmental studies and approval for the development by the Army Corps of Engineers. Because the property, located at 1250 North and 1250 West, sits on wetlands, gaining approval could be sticky.
Not that Terramerica feels very rushed.
"We plan to take our time and do it right," said Dave Evans, president of Terramerica.
Terramerica has targeted Centerville for such an undertaking since the 1960s when the corporation's founder, Sydney Horman, purchased the property.
Based on the proximity to I-15, the Union Pacific railroad tracks and growth along the Wasatch Front, "(Horman) knew that the day would come when this would become a prime developable site," Evans said.
That time came with the naming of Salt Lake City as the host of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
"There is a lot of excitement brought to this valley because of the Olympics," Evans said. "We're hoping that the timing (of this development) will benefit us."
Adding to their potential for success, he said, was the quickly burgeoning area around the Parrish Lane interchange on I-15. With the addition of fast food and upscale restaurants, as well as retail outlets like Super Target and Home Depot, businesses will be attracted to the area.
Skeptics of the planned project doubt Terramerica's stated intentions, however.
"They're playing hardball (with UDOT)," said Cullen Battle of the Farmington Bay Advocates, a wetlands conservation group opposed to alignment C of the Legacy Parkway.
Many opponents have suggested that planning the development is a ploy to drive up the price of alignment A, making it even more difficult for UDOT to build the parkway.
Nor does he feel that alignment C will eventually protect more wetlands.
"I don't buy the `line-in-the-sand' argument," Battle said. "There is nothing to stop development west of anything."
UDOT officials, however, say that although it won't win any approval points, it does provide additional ammunition for their arguments. Either way, it won't change their game plan.
"We're still committed to getting alignment C approved," said Carlos Braceras, UDOT project manager for the Legacy Parkway.
The business park does demonstrate what could eventually happen in the Great Salt Lake wetlands, however.
"It's an indication of development that will occur, with or without Legacy," Braceras said. "But it also shows that alignment C can provide a barrier."
The Army Corps has not yet received any information about this property and could not comment about this particular issue.