SALT LAKE CITY — A bill creating a new commission to come up with a plan for developing the Point of the Mountain area once the Utah State Prison is relocated was approved Friday by a Senate committee.
"It's the hottest place in the state," Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, the Senate sponsor of HB318, told members of the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee.
Stevenson said state government needs to be involved in planning for the area because it owns a "tremendous asset," the nearly 700 acres where the aging prison has sat for decades.
With the decision by lawmakers last year to move the prison to a site west of the Salt Lake City International Airport, the property is expected to be freed up by 2020 for development as part of what's being called Utah's "Silicon Slopes."
"We want to make sure what we do is right, because we only get one chance," Stevenson said. He said he and the bill's sponsor, House Majority Assistant Whip Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, want the process to parallel the prison relocation effort.
Stevenson said with some "accusing the state of wanting to make a quick sale and reap the benefits" from the Draper prison property, more time should be spent planning for more high-tech and other development along the I-15 corridor.
He said the commission, which will include state and local government representatives from many of the 15 entities between Lehi and Draper affected by development, will not take away local authority.
Once the new commission produces a study, Stevenson said it will be up to lawmakers in a future session to make decisions about the use of the prison property.
Lynn Pace, president of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, spoke in favor of the bill. Pace said local governments are made "nervous when the state comes in with big plans" that could affect their authority over development impacts and taxes.
But Pace said there have been assurances "this bill is merely a study and planning tool."
The committee voted unanimously to advance the bill, which has already passed the House, to the full Senate.
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