March 5, 2014 | Standard Examiner | By Bryon Saxton |
The one thing Farmington City officials don’t want when it comes to the West Davis Corridor Environmental Impact Study is a faulty EIS that can be hung up in the courts.
In a “warning shot” letter Tuesday to the Federal Highway Administration, Farmington officials let their concerns with the project be known — again.
The city has spent about $100,000 with the Salt Lake City law firm of Ray Quinney & Nebeker in having it represent the city’s position on the 20-mile, $587 million roadway, proposed to run from Farmington to West Haven in Weber County, according to officials. Route details have been disputed by Farmington and other parties.
The city hired the law firm to protect its interest in conservation easement shoreline property that runs the width of the city.
“It is important in that we are trying to express to those in the decision tree we do not want to see a faulty EIS adopted,” City Manager Dave Millheim said of the letter.
“We believe a faulty EIS would cost all taxpayers considerable extra expense and protracted frustration, which serves no one,” Millheim said.
“We are hoping (the Utah Department of Transportation) and FHWA take our concerns and those expressed by others seriously so the public is better served as this project evaluation moves forward,” he said.
“We believe there is a strong likelihood of legal challenges on a variety of grounds from a variety of groups,” Millheim said in the letter.
“We owe more to the taxpayers of Utah than something that is going to be hung up in the courts for years,” he said.
“We understand Farmington City’s concerns and we will work with them throughout the process,” UDOT spokesman John Gleason said.
Gleason said the EIS study is expected to be complete by the end of this year.
Whatever the outcome of the EIS, Millheim said, it will affect someone adversely. “But we have a stewardship to the people of Farmington city,” he said.
The city has purposely avoided any emotional response to the ongoing EIS study, Millheim said, “because we don’t believe an emotional response does any good.”
But UDOT does have a legal obligation to address the city’s concerns, he said.
“We do not want the state to repeat the mistakes of Legacy I with Legacy II,” Millheim said, referring to the 11.5-mile southern arm of the Legacy Parkway which was completed in 2008. That four-lane roadway runs from the Salt Lake County border to Farmington.
“We hope those can be avoided and we have done our best to express our concerns,” he said.
Millheim said the city will be posting on its website both the Tuesday letter to the FHWA, along with a related letter it sent out a few weeks ago regarding conservation easement concerns.
The city will continue to post on its website related information to the West Davis Corridor project in an effort to keep the public informed, as well as to address the many records and phone requests they are receiving for these documents, Millheim said.