Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
FILE - Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, stands and looks out the window at the Utah State Capitol on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. A resolution allowing the Utah Developmental Center in American Fork to sell or lease four of the center's 250 acres needed to connect two area roads was advanced Tuesday by the Senate Transportation Committee.

SALT LAKE CITY — A resolution allowing the Utah Developmental Center in American Fork to sell or lease four of the center's 250 acres needed to connect two area roads was advanced Tuesday by the Senate Transportation Committee.

HJR7, sponsored by Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, would allow a project to connect North County Boulevard and the Alpine Highway that's been in the works for some nine years to go forward.

Nearly $5 million has been set aside to acquire the land and adjacent properties have been purchased, Andrew Jackson, executive director of the Mountainland Association of Governments, told the committee.

Much of the committee's discussion about HJR7 centered around further development of the property. The Senate gave preliminary approval Tuesday to SJR8, which would allow 143 acres and water rights to be sold or leased.

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, asked if the House resolution was just the start of developing the center's property, set aside in 1929 to care for the intellectually disabled.

"I’m protective of people that live there and the heritage of that building," Dabakis said. He said he volunteered there as a BYU student and that the state has a "terrific responsibility" to the residents.

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He cast the only vote against sending the bill to the Senate.

Kennedy said he was only focused on the road. He said he and the neighboring communities care about the residents at the center.

The chairman of the committee, Sen. Gregg Buxton, R-Roy, said he plans to run legislation this session that would require all of the proceeds from any sale or lease of land at the center to go into a restricted account for the benefit of residents.

Buxton said he believed some $60 million could be made through the larger sale or lease.