Vineyard could welcome the next inland port. Here’s where other projects have been approved across Utah.

Public notice outlines a possible port project next to Utah Lake and the forthcoming “Utah City” development.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Vineyard apparently plans to create an inland port project industrial zone, along with its massive Utah City development, on the old Geneva Steel site, seen here as vacant land to the north and east on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.

It appears Utah County could be home to yet another inland port project.

On Sunday, Vineyard published notice of a hearing where the City Council will consider a 372-acre project area near the shores of Utah Lake on ground formerly occupied by the Geneva Steel mill. The hearing was scheduled for Dec. 13.

The city’s agenda webpage no longer had a link to the document in its public announcements and agendas as of Wednesday, but the notice is still actively hosted on the city website.

If approved by the Utah Inland Port Authority, the Vineyard site would mark the ninth inland port project in the state, and the second in Utah County. The UIPA board approved Spanish Fork’s 2,200-acre Verk Industrial Park in July.

UIPA’s “port” projects aren’t ports in the traditional sense. Instead, they’re largely economic development zones that leverage the increased property tax revenue generated from new construction to create incentives for light industrial businesses to invest in the area.

Ben Hart, UIPA’s executive director, said in an interview he’s aware of Vineyard’s port proposal and plans to attend their City Council meeting next week.

“Right now we’ve got to understand what exactly they’re planning for this area,” Hart said. “People are going to think this is a foregone conclusion. It is not.”

Like other port project areas, Vineyard proposes handing UIPA 75% of the boost to property taxes, or tax differential, brought by development for a period of 25 years, according to the document uploaded this week.

Vineyard officials have also announced plans to build a massive development called Utah City on the old steel mill site to the west of the proposed port, on the Utah Lake shore.

Incoming council member Jacob Holdaway, elected last month, bristled at the port proposal and handing taxpayer money to a UIPA, an unelected, quasi-governmental institution. The city has paid millions for the Geneva plant’s cleanup through its Redevelopment Agency.

“It would gut our entire city of our future tax base,” he said. “... That’s the only reason we paid to clean it up, to get tax money.”

Hart, however, said all the property tax UIPA receives gets reinvested back into the area where it was collected.

“We can only exist where there would be value added in new areas,” Hart said. “Any money we generate stays in the community.”

Holdaway and another incoming council member, Sara Cameron, also wondered why the City Council intended to vote on a port project, making a significant land use decision, mere weeks before half its members were about to be replaced with newly elected representatives.

“It was definitely intentional,” Cameron said.

Mayor Julie Fullmer did not respond to an email inquiry.

The Utah Legislature first required Salt Lake City to site a 16,000-acre inland port in its northwest quadrant in 2018, despite the city’s opposition. After much controversy and legal disputes caused by that original port location, UIPA retooled its strategy and has shifted its focus to other sites across Utah where communities welcome its involvement.

Now port projects in the state must have approval from elected city or county leaders.

Here are the port projects approved to date:

  • Salt Lake City’s northwest quadrant, covering 16,000 acres, as required by the Legislature in 2018;

  • Iron County’s Iron Springs, which includes two sites covering 899 acres, approved by UIPA in April 2023;

  • Spanish Fork’s Verk Industrial Park, covering 2,237 acres, approved by UIPA in July 2023;

  • Box Elder County’s Golden Spike Park, which includes patches of land in Brigham City, Tremonton and Garland, and covers about 1,500 acres, approved by UIPA in August 2023;

  • Juab County’s Central Utah Agri-Park, which includes three disconnected sites covering about 35,000 acres, approved by UIPA in September 2023;

  • Beaver County’s Mineral Mountains, which includes zones in Milford, Beaver and Minersville covering 23,250 acres, approved by UIPA in October 2023;

  • Tooele County’s Tooele Valley, covering 243 acres, approved by UIPA this week; and

  • Grantsville City’s Twenty Wells, covering 498 acres, also approved by UIPA this week.

In addition, Weber County invited UIPA in August to oversee a 903-acre project immediately next to the Great Salt Lake, but the port authority board has not held a meeting or voted on the plan.