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Vineyard considering bringing a new inland port project during next city council meeting

By Carlene Coombs - | Dec 7, 2023

Courtesy Vineyard City

The proposed inland port project area, as shown in the Vineyard public notice regarding a public hearing to consider an inland port project.

Vineyard is proposing a new Utah Inland Port Authority project area and will be holding a public hearing on the issue next week.

Spanish Fork approved a port project in July, with its project area being just 16 miles away from the proposed area in Vineyard. The public hearing will be at 6 p.m. next Wednesday.

According to a public notice posted to Vineyard City’s website on Sunday, the potential project would be located near the Vineyard FrontRunner station on the land of the former Geneva Steel Mill.

Ben Hart, executive director at the Utah Inland Port Authority, stressed that the project is in its very early stage, and said there are still many steps to take before it can come to fruition.

“Just because it’s being considered and a city is looking to adopt a resolution does not guarantee that there will be a port authority that’s created,” he said.

Jacob Holdaway, an incoming Vineyard City Council member, said he wishes the city had been more transparent and given more notice about the project being considered. Holdaway said he only learned about the hearing when he saw the public notice on the city website.

He added that he doesn’t necessarily believe the project has no merit, but said there needs to be increased public input and engagement.

“If we’re going to take a look at it, it needs to be a very in-depth process,” Holdaway said.

According to the UIPA website, the first step in considering an inland port project area is for a city or municipality to request the state agency to begin drafting a plan. That first step is what Vineyard City will consider during next week’s meeting, where the City Council will hear from citizens and decide whether or not to approve a resolution inviting UIPA to begin the process.

If the city approves the resolution, the port authority will then hold two public meetings of its own to discuss the plan. After that, the UIPA board will vote on the plan in another public meeting.

For now, Hart said it’s unclear exactly what the project would entail as it’s so early on, but he hopes to receive input from the community on how they would envision a potential project.

“Feedback is very, very important (and) understanding where the community is at, what the concerns are, what the desires are in terms of economic growth balanced with environmental stewardship,” he said.

Vineyard Mayor Julie Fullmer said while the project is still in its “exploratory phase,” the city is dedicated to economic growth and opportunity, which is why they are looking into it.

“We have a dedication to economic growth and for the viability of our community, and so we’re just really taking that stewardship to heart and making sure that we explore all opportunities that could potentially strengthen our resources and our ability to grow in a way that is lasting for our community and for future generations,” she said.

According to the public notice, UIPA would receive 75% of the boost in property taxes within the project zone over the next 25 years, with the city receiving the remaining 25%.

Fullmer said the community will continue to have the opportunity to give input, such as at the public hearing and through the process with UIPA.

“They (the public) will be able to talk about what they think about it and how they perceive it and what that looks like, for the foreseeable future,” she said.

Holdaway said he has concerns about such constitutionally “quasi-government”-type projects and making sure the citizens of Vineyard get to have a voice.

As a new incoming council member, Holdaway said he has already spoken with developers and made it clear he will “hold them accountable.”

Holdaway added that not only does he want to see more public involvement with Vineyard residents, but he’s also concerned about the impact the project could have on surrounding cities like Orem or Lindon.

“Are they going to get a seat at the table to voice this, to voice the impact of those trucks in their city streets,” he asked. “I am of the opinion that we need to be good neighbors, that we need to consider their impact and how they feel about it.”

The public hearing will be held at Vineyard City Hall. The public can also view the meeting on the city’s website.


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