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Jordan school board airs reservations on Intel plant

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Feeling concerned and betrayed, the Jordan Board of Education on Tuesday met with representatives from Riverton to discuss a proposal allowing Intel Corp. to build a 154-acre facility within district boundaries.

The site for the computer company's proposed research and development complex is dangerously close to two newly built schools, putting children at risk and creating extra cost for the district, board President Jane Callister said."We have some great concerns at this point," Callister said.

Increased traffic and the possibility of additional businesses, such as hotels and other hospitality businesses, sprouting up in the area threaten the safety of children, she said.

Intel has expressed interest in building its campus between 13400 South, 3600 West and Bangerter Highway, on land currently owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said Riverton Planning Director Jody Ketelsen. The site is adjacent to Rose Creek Elementary School.

The problem, voiced by the board and acknowledged by Riverton Mayor Sandra Lloyd, stems from the rezoning of the area that took place in 1997, which put Rose Creek Elementary and South Hills Middle School in the heart of a commercial district.

At the time construction of the two schools was being planned, the area was zoned as a residential area. But, with the construction of the Bangerter Highway, land near the school became a prime location for commercial businesses.

Board members and Superintendent Barry Newbold questioned whether the district was ever informed when the rezoning was proposed.

"I have had people researching it, and we don't have a record of that," Newbold said. "That doesn't mean it didn't happen, but we are not able to find a copy (of any document including the district in re-zoning discussions) typically sent to us by the city."

"We built these schools according to what zoning we were told was there," Callister said. "We built this school as a walk-in school . . . and now I am concerned that we will have a school misplaced."

Board members were also concerned about the increase in the district's student population if Intel locates within their boundaries. The Jordan School District is already the largest in the state.

William D. Oswald, attorney for the Riverton Redevelopment Agency, said they projected nearly 1,400 children would enter the state as a result of the Intel project, 70 percent of whom would attend school in the Jordan School District. That estimate could increase to as many as 2,300 children when "spin-off" from additional businesses are factored in, he said.

That would mean accommodating the equivalent of several new school populations, Callister said.

While admitting the site would not be ideal, Lloyd said there are overwhelming advantages to welcoming Intel to Riverton.

Because the facility would be solely for the purposes of research and development, most of the estimated 8,000 jobs would be high-paying, high-skilled jobs. Projected starting pay rates average $45,000, and Intel has said the vast majority of those jobs would go to Utah workers, Lloyd said.

Second, the facility is to be built in three phases over 15 years, which would give the city enough time to accommodate the needs of the growing community.

But, Callister asked, what of the needs of the schoolchildren?

Ketelsen assured the board that Intel had the safety of the children as a prime concern. Extra-wide walkways would be built along Bangerter Highway (in addition to the already-approved pedestrian overpass) to ensure the students are not threatened by traffic.

Jonnalyne Walker, economic benefit analysis consultant for the RDA, said the district would benefit by nearly half of the projected $20 million generated from tax increments. As allowed by Utah law, $1.5 million of that could come as a direct payment to the district.

Discussion on the matter will continue at a public meeting Nov. 24, leading up to a proposal submitted to Intel in December, Walker said.

Board members assured the city they would be involved in those discussions.

"I hope Intel can come to Riverton," Callister said, "but not in an area that's so near a residential school."