A conditional use permit with a new proviso may be the answer everyone has been looking for to help prevent more Tooele County-owned roads from crumbling apart underneath the wheels of heavy truck traffic.
A Feb. 7 Transcript Bulletin news story headlined “New plant granted permit to operate, but there’s a catch,” reported the Tooele County Planning Commission has approved a CUP to Bruce and Garry Bolinder for an industrial materials processing plant they want to build on 57 acres east of Burmester Road and just south of Interstate 80.
According to Garry Bolinder, the plant will crush, wash, dry, load and store materials that will be used for concrete production. There will be no gravel extraction at the site, he said.
Semi trucks will deliver materials to and from the plant, and county officials anticipate those trucks will accelerate wear on a half-mile stretch of Burmester Road. But instead of having tax dollars pay for the expected wear, the proviso requires the facility cannot begin to operate until the Bolinders have signed a mitigation agreement to pay for the “upgrade, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure” associated with the new plant.
What makes the proviso possible is Ordinance 2005-30, which the county is enforcing for the first time, according to Tooele County Recorder/Surveyor Jerry Houghton.
“The county has had a law on the books since 2005 allowing for this [a mitigation fee], but until now we have not been able to come up with an objective way to determine the fee,” he said.
Houghton said the mitigation fee’s amount for the Bolinder CUP has not yet been determined, but will be based on a current traffic study, projected road trips by the plant, data on maintenance costs from the county’s road department, and national standards.
A pleasant surprise, instead of fighting against the mitigation fee, the Bolinders welcome it. Yet, Tooele County Commission Chairman Wade Bitner sounds cautiously optimistic. He said it’s a new process that “we’ll need to see how it works out” and “I wouldn’t say right now that we will do this for all future projects.”
But the county commission would be wise to consider adding the proviso to all similar projects in the future. We don’t have to look far for the reasons why. The county spent $1.9 million to rebuild six miles of Mormon Trail Road last fall after the road reportedly fell apart caused by heavy truck traffic from gravel pits. And in the same edition the Bolinder’s CUP story was published, there was a story about Bates Canyon Road residents who are angry over truck traffic from nearby gravel pits causing road damage and safety concerns.
Although it could be argued the mitigation fee hurts business, Tooele County officials are applauded for finally applying the ordinance. Likewise, the Bolinders are applauded for willfully agreeing to pay. A solution to the county’s ongoing road woes caused by heavy trucks may be at hand.
Now the question is: Houghton said CUPs for some local gravel pits do include the proviso, but it was never enforced. Will the county commissioners now press forward to collect mitigation fees from them to help pay for damaged roads?