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TERMS OF FIRE STATION LEASE SURPRISE 2 BOARD MEMBERS

SHARE TERMS OF FIRE STATION LEASE SURPRISE 2 BOARD MEMBERS

Two members of the South Davis Fire District Board of Directors just got a nasty surprise.

Board chairwoman and Centerville Mayor Priscilla Todd has been leading the charge for a new interlocal agreement, as well as a lease agreement for Fire Station No. 3, 100 S. Main in Centerville. The fire district owns the building, while Centerville owns the land it sits on.Last month the board agreed in principle on a 50-year lease, $1 per year, for the land. But what board members Clare Jones, North Salt Lake's mayor, and Carl Johnson, West Bountiful's mayor, didn't know was that after the lease expired, the land and the station would both belong to Centerville.

Jones found out when he read a Sept. 25 Deseret News article on the issue. Johnson didn't find out until Monday's board meeting, when Jones brought up the subject as the final version of the lease was being distributed for signature.

The document contains no explicit statement that the station will go to Centerville after the 50-year lease term. According to the fire district's attorney Greg Sanders, who prepared the lease together with Todd, the document's terms only implicitly provide for the transfer.

In a Sept. 22 interview with the Deseret News, Todd had discussed the $1 yearly lease rate but did not mention the transfer of the building. (She did hint that something else would become clear after the lease was executed.)

Later that day, when Todd was confronted with the discovery that the building would be transferred upon termination of the lease, she asked that it be kept out of the newspaper, giving as her reason the continuing negotiation of the lease.

Todd said at the time that all board members were aware of the transfer. (After Monday's meeting she said she was "very surprised" that Jones and Johnson in fact did not know.)

Jones, himself a lawyer, had read the lease without realizing its import with regard to the station's ownership. What's more, he said it had never been addressed in board meetings.

"This particular issue was never discussed," he said. "I was laboring under the impression that Centerville would own only the raw land at the end of the lease."

Todd answered Jones by saying the language of the lease was "quite clear."

"It isn't quite clear," Jones rejoined. "Greg (Sanders) said it was only `under operation of law.' . . . We did not discuss that in any detail or even conceptually in any meeting I've attended."

Todd said the issue had been discussed in at least one meeting, but none of the other board members could specifically remember such a discussion.

Though his method of discovering the issue was unusual, Jones had had a week to think about it and ultimately voted to approve the lease. Not so Johnson, who was the sole dissenting vote.

"When you have to have an attorney explain it to you, it should be easy to understand why we didn't understand this `operation of law,' " he said. "I do not agree with the contemplation of a transfer back to (Centerville)."

Board members Daniel Mc-Con-kie, Davis County commissioner, and Jerry Larrabee, Woods Cross mayor, had recognized the significance of the lease.

"As an appraiser, this is something I see constantly," Larrabee said. "It's not a problem to me. . . . It should have been clear to everybody" that the building would be transferred.

Though Jones and Johnson were clearly miffed that the issue had not come out, neither they nor any other board member overtly accused Todd of trying to pull a fast one.

The board had earlier discussed, and rejected, leasing the land at fair market value.

Both the lease and interlocal agreement were approved Monday.