State Division of Lands staff has been authorized to explore the possibility of entering a business agreement with the city of St. George, which is proposing an extensive industrial park that would be located on school trust land.
Kevin Carter, assistant division director, stressed to State Land Board members meeting in Wendover recently that the proposal is in its early infancy. The plan would require cooperation among a number of entities, including the city, the division, the Utah Legislature and several state agencies."The staff has concerns. We are not sure at this point if it is legal or in the best interests (of the trust,)" Carter said.
Steven Creamer, Utah businessman and consultant to St. George City, agreed that the concept is far from finished. The city envisions an industrial complex on 6,000 to 10,000 acres of current trust land. St. George is getting requests from businesses that want to locate in the area. The city's concept is similar to Provo's East Bay Park, with golf courses and other amenities as well as businesses.
The initial costs of infrastructure to support the development, including access from I-15, could be as much as $11 million, but businesses in the park could also contribute significantly to trust income, which supports education. An agreement between the interested parties would protect the division from speculation.
The plan would require the Legislature's permission for St. George to use tax increment funding, Creamer said.
Although some Land Board members expressed concern that approval for study of the St. George proposal would be seen as precedent for other such projects, the board voted to allow division staff to continue to investigate the possibilities.