FARMINGTON - Farmington city officials aren’t happy with actions being taken by UDOT and the FHWA when it comes to the proposed West Davis Corridor.
It blasted non-inclusion of three conservation areas in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement in a letter sent to both the Utah Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration on Friday,
“Some of the flaws in the environmental assessment for the corridor” are listed in the letter from city-retained attorney Jeffrey W. Appel of Salt Lake City.
“They are taking for granted conservation easements, and we expect them not to do that,” City Manager David Millheim said. “We are very concerned UDOT is buying property on alignments that supposedly haven’t been set yet.”
The agency is officially saying preferred alternatives haven’t been chosen, so “why are they telling everyone that’s the property they’re buying,” he said.
“I believe we have a strong difference of opinion, legally, as to what they’ve done with conservation easements. They’re saying they don’t qualify. We’re saying they do.
“We’re not going to look the other way and be ramrodded by assumptions we don’t think are accurate,” Millheim said. “I think it puts the whole issue at risk.”
The conservation areas are at Farmington Ranches, Farmington Meadows and the Buffalo Ranch Trail conservation easement.
The easements cover a variety of aspects from ecological to agricultural, open space, recreational and educational uses of property. Open space could include picnic areas, village greens, community gardens, trails and similar low-impact recreational uses. Those are defined as legal in conservation easement documents.
The city told FHWA in 2012, “The lands are significant due to their location along the shore of the Great Salt Lake, and their unique conservation values.”
The city’s Resource and Site Analysis Plan indicates they must be preserved for such things as parks, recreation areas or wildlife/waterfowl refuges.
“We’re aware of Farmington’s concerns,” said UDOT spokesman John Gleason. “We’ll continue to work with them throughout this process.”
The West Davis Corridor process has been sometimes contentious, with some residents staging rallies in opposition to proposed routes. No decision is expected on a route until at least next fall or winter, information from UDOT said.