The Utah County Commission voted on Wednesday to approve an interlocal agreement between the county and the Eagle Mountain Development Agency as part of a proposal to build a second data center in the north county city.

Eagle Mountain is currently home to the Facebook data center, which announced earlier this year it will expand by 900,000 square feet with two new buildings.

On March 16, the Eagle Mountain City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance adopting the “Sweetwater Industrial Park Community Reinvestment Area #2 Project Area Plan” to “allow for the creation of a Community Reinvestment Area in order to allow for an enterprise data center project development on approximately 327 acres of land.”

“The project area is adjacent to the Facebook data center site and is currently in the Regional Technology and Industry Overlay Zone,” according to a report outlining the project plan.

The report also states that tax increment arising from the $600 million development “shall be used for public infrastructure improvements,” off-site and on-site improvements, land and job-oriented incentives and other items approved by the Eagle Mountain Redevelopment Agency.

Among the anticipated benefit to the public and taxing entities — including Eagle Mountain, Utah County, Alpine School District, Central Utah Water Conservancy District and the Unified Fire District — are “increased property tax revenues, job growth and affordable housing opportunities in the community.”

During a Utah County Commission meeting on Wednesday, Commissioner Bill Lee said he had “negotiated” with the company proposing to build the data center, which he did not name, and said he “asked some really, really super hard questions with the company and with their firm that represents them.”

“I see my role as one where I’m negotiating on behalf of the citizens of Utah County, and trying to find a place and pattern that makes sense as we’re competing in a worldwide market,” Lee said.

As part of his negotiations, Lee suggested that the county receive 100% of affordable housing subsidies included in the project, meaning none of that money would go to Eagle Mountain.

“It’s the ability for the county to be able to use that, and so I see it as a benefit countywide,” Lee said.

Commissioner Amelia Powers Gardner said she agreed with Lee’s suggestion. “I don’t know what their plan is, I don’t know how much affordable housing they plan to put in their city or how many single-family homes they plan to put in their city, but I know that there’s a lot of other areas in the county that could really utilize that money. So I think it sounds like a good idea.”

Commissioner Tom Sakievich asked whether it would be better to split the affordable housing subsidies 50-50 with Eagle Mountain “to keep the city some funds coming to them for that future need that they’re going to have.”

“I’m pretty stubborn at the 100%,” said Lee. “I’ll just tell you.”

The commission voted unanimously to approve the interlocal agreement with the Eagle Mountain Development Agency with the amendment suggested by Lee.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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