After three months of negotiations, details are finally written on the Utah Quality Growth Act of 1999.

After some pondering, Senate President Lane Beattie, R-West Bountiful, supports the idea and Republican and Democratic leadership have joined efforts on the legislation, sponsored by House Majority Leader Kevin Garn, R-Layton.Garn and co-sponsor Rep. Susan Koehn, R-Woods Cross, have negotiated with real estate agents, developers, conservationists, cities and towns and other community leaders in drafting the bill, which protects private property rights while helping to control development.

"We think this is a great piece of compromise legislation," Koehn said. "We worked very hard with Democrats and others."

Garn said this week the act has a battle ahead as it comes before 104 members of the state Legislature.

General rumblings from former House Speaker Mel Brown, R-Midvale, and the rest of the pro-property rights advocating "Cowboy Caucus" of rural lawmakers may portend trouble. "We feel there will be a lively debate," Koehn said.

Gov. Mike Leavitt has said the state will "not support sprawl" and will reward communities that follow certain guidelines.

In a number of polls, Utahns have ranked growth at the top of their list of concerns. In surveys completed just before this legislative session, the majority of lawmakers listed growth as one of the top three issues before them.

But the act has been one of the most discussed, much altered pieces of legislation.

The latest draft of the act does the following:

Establishes a Quality Growth Commission, which gives incentives to cities and towns to control urban sprawl.

Re-establishes the LeRay McAllister Critical Land Conservation Fund.

Sets up a $5 million open-space fund that would take $3 million a year from general-fund revenues. An additional $1 million would come from savings realized by energy-efficiency improvements at state agencies.

The fund will be bolstered by a $1 million, one-time utility rebate the state expects under a Public Service Commission order.

Defines legislative intent for so-called "Quality Growth Areas."

The act is one of the top issues for the Utah League of Cities and Towns, which represents 232 municipalities throughout the state.

"I think we're getting close," Gary Uresk, chairman of the League's Growth Management Task Force, said Thursday.

The League's Legislative Policy Committee said it would support the act on five conditions, according to Uresk, a professional planner and city administrator at Woods Cross:

That it include no mandates on incentive-based encouragement for cities to apply what have been called "growth principles" of higher density and affordable housing.

That the act not diminish any locally generated revenues.

That the priority of the Quality Growth Commission -- once established -- should evaluate state statute for barriers to quality growth. "For example, annexation laws," Uresk said.

The League also wanted to provide clerical and professional staff -- planners, for example -- for the Quality Growth Commission. The governor's office originally would have staffed the commission, but current legislation does not address the staffing issue.

The League also wanted representatives from cities and towns to have a majority on the commission. If the commission represents a variety of interests, then the League will be satisfied, he said.