Farmland • Bill would allow appeal to elected board, but farmers say it's a power play.
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Legislators sided Monday with some Utah County farmers seeking to protect their land from a big, new pipeline proposed by the Central Utah Project.
The Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee declined to act on SB86 by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, which could help the CUP put that pipeline on the farmland. The committee simply moved to other agenda items, thwarting the bill for now.
The CUP had sought to use eminent domain to condemn some farmland for a large pipeline to serve Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain. Farmers appealed to an agricultural protection zone advisory board, which rejected the CUP's plans.
Michael Jensen, a Salt Lake County Council member who leads the board that oversees the CUP, said the CUP found that it had no ability under current law to appeal that decision. He said the CUP can build around the farmers, but it will cost taxpayers extra money.
Bramble said he introduced the bill to allow appeals in such cases to a board of elected officials, such as a county commission. He said elected officials, who are accountable to voters, should have the final decision in such matters, not an appointed board.
But farmer Allen A. Christensen said the bill is "nothing more or less than a power play by a public utility that didn't get its way" to gain access to his land, and said the pipeline could destroy his land for farming which the CUP disputed.
Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, made the motion to move to other agenda items without acting on the bill. "Private property rights are among the pillars of capitalism," she said, adding that the farmers are her constituents who raised "serious concerns and I am not sure we have addressed them all."