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Wasatch County gives state agency authority over 70 acres

Wasatch County
Development plans in land that a state agency known as "MIDA" just took control over include 140 affordable housing units, as sketched in the green-shaded area.

Wasatch County has handed over control of 70 acres of land to the state for affordable housing and commercial development.

A development on land where the state just took over jurisdiction includes 140 planned affordable homes near the future Mayflower ski resort.

The county council unanimously voted to give control over the land near U.S. Highway 40 and the Jordanelle State Park to the Military Installation Development Authority. More commonly known as “MIDA,” that’s the state agency overseeing the Mayflower development.

Now the MIDA board, led by Senate President Stuart Adams and State Senator Jerry Stevenson, is the authority overseeing that area. Adams and Stevenson both represent Davis County in the Legislature.

As Wasatch County Manager Dustin Grabau said in a council meeting Wednesday, that means the state has final say over what happens on that land.

“We’re not going to go back and criticize MIDA when they do build something on this parcel because it’s included in this agreement and we’ve agreed that they do intend to develop it along these lines, even if that may not have happened had it stayed under county land use authority,” he said.

In addition to the housing, the proposal includes recreation fields, a convenience store, a park and playground. Extell Utah, the developer of the Mayflower resort, would build the homes.

Another possible Extell development on the 70 acres would include commercial space and townhomes to be sold at market rate.

According to MIDA spokesperson Kristen Williams, that plan delivers more homes to be sold and rented at affordable rates than was required in the county’s original agreement with MIDA.

Grabau said giving MIDA control benefits the county by creating a new major source of revenue. The agreement allows the county to still charge impact fees on the new developments, generating money to help pay for public facilities such as roads in the area.

On top of that, he said it creates more opportunity for taxable properties to be built within the project area. Grabau said the owner of the land, Dutch company Stichting Mayflower, didn’t have other proposals for developments.

He said county residents will come out ahead because the county will receive some of the much higher tax revenues the state has created by developing major hotels and housing complexes on the land.

By giving jurisdiction of the land to MIDA, the state can collect energy transaction taxes and resort taxes. According to Grabau, Wasatch County can’t collect those types of taxes on its own but struck an agreement with MIDA to receive a percentage of those revenues.

“We are already collecting some revenues,” he said. “It's in the [10,000s] of dollars right now as part of administration fees and tax increment and that we're collecting from MIDA. I think we expect it to grow significantly. I can't say exactly what the dollar amount is.”

Grabau said financial projections suggest that over time, the entire Mayflower development could become one of the county’s top revenue sources.

“I think at full build-out many years from now, we're talking millions of dollars,” Grabau said. “How long it takes to get to there is kind of dependent on what the economy does between now and then, how successful the ski resort is, and, by consequence, how much snow we get between now and then, what does that hotel’s build out look like? What does the commercial activity around there look like?”

The MIDA Board meets Tuesday at 9 a.m. over Zoom. A link to attend the meeting is available here.

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