The Utah State Board of Regents won't choose between two Davis County communities for a future educational land bank until next month so that all members can visit the Farmington and Layton locations to avoid any hint of bias.

The regents were prepared to buy property in Layton Tuesday for use as a Weber State University satellite facility that could include other higher-education uses, either now or later.Higher education officials pointedly referred to the property as a "land bank" and made clear they are not promising anyone a college or community college, despite widespread talk to the contrary in Davis County.

But after accusations by Rep. Marda Dillree, R-Farmington, that the recommendation came from a committee stacked in favor of Layton, the regents postponed voting until their January meeting.

"The committee is weighted with Layton people. There is somewhat of a prejudice," Dillree said - a charge quickly denied by Regent Clifford LeFevre, who is on the committee.

"If you check the addresses, 50 percent of the committee comes from south of Layton. There were no biases in that committee's research and work," LeFevre said. However, he urged the regents to visit both locations, saying that is always a good idea before buying property.

Although board chairman Kenneth Anderton said the regents weren't avoiding action because of "any bias issues - we want to make the best decision for the state of Utah," other regents privately said later that they wanted to avoid any perception of prejudice, whether it actually exists or not.

Meanwhile, both Farmington and Layton city officials were heartened by the delay, thinking it might sway things in their favor.

"All we want is a fair shot," said Farmington Mayor Greg Bell, who noted that the state rejected the property for the higher-education land bank, but has found other nearby land quite suitable for a jail, courthouse and, most recently, a juvenile justice center.

"When it's a facility nobody wants, all of a sudden it ends up in the county seat," Bell said.

Farmington has proposed two locations, and Bell said these are free of traffic congestion, centrally located in the county, flexible for building proposals because the area isn't filled with commercial development and it is aesthetically attractive.

On the other hand, Layton Mayor Jerry Stevenson said he is confident the Layton site will hold up under closer scrutiny and still win out. Stevenson said the Layton property has excellent transportation access, also is quite buildable, enjoys many existing or immediately proposed city-initiated infrastructure benefits, offers a community with housing and jobs for students and also is aesthetically pleasing.

Both mayors were careful not to knock the opposing city, but emphasize the good points of their properties instead.

However, after their part of the meeting was over, Stevenson and Dillree squared off for some energetic talk in the hallway outside.

"I did what I did for my district," Dillree said. "You have a bias for the community."

"I do," Stevenson replied. "So do you."

The Layton property consists of about 100 acres between 1200 W. and U-193 east of I-15. It also includes about 20 acres in Clearfield.

One Farmington site is about 142 acres on Clark Lane near the Davis County Fairgrounds, while the other location is 141 acres south of I-15 and west of Lagoon.