Regional planners envisioned it becoming one of a string of "town centers" along rail lines that would help handle an expected doubling of Utah's population by building skyward instead of sprawling outward. Some worry the Stadler proposal could throw a wrench into such regional plans.
However, UTA recently canceled its contract with The Thackeray Garn Co. for development at the site, saying progress was slow and UTA wanted out after questionable dealings by that company with former UTA board members and officials.
Clearfield officials said that cancellation left no projects on the near horizon for most of the site, except for the proposal by Stadler Rail, which they say may bring 400 to 1,000 jobs and help revitalize surrounding areas.
UTA is working through Clearfield, rather than directly with Stadler, because of its controversial history with the agency.
Several UTA board members and former board Chairman Greg Hughes traveled to Switzerland and Stadler headquarters in 2015.
That visit forced UTA to discard bids at the time by Stadler and others seeking to lease a portion of a UTA maintenance facility because of the appearance of favoritism. Stadler later won the lease anyway, after a rebidding process.
The UTA board last month delayed expected conditional approval of the project when it learned that the contractor proposed to build the rail-car assembly plant is Sheldon Killpack, a former UTA board member who resigned under fire after he went on that controversial Swiss trip.
The board decided to take extra time to take public comment and look further into whether Killpack's involvement creates legal problems, or serious issues with real or perceived conflicts of interest