Grantsville City is one step closer to passing a zoning change that would prohibit building the Utah State Prison within its municipal borders.
The Grantsville Planning Commission recommended approval of the resolution, which adds jails, prisons or other correctional facilities to use tables in the city’s land use management and development code. The amendment only allows a prison facility with up to 249 beds in manufacturing zones with a conditional use permit.
The proposed Utah State Prison is expected to house about 4,000 inmates, similar to the number held in the current Draper prison.
No prison or similar correctional facility will be allowed in agricultural, commercial and residential zones in the city.
The amendments would affect use tables in chapters 14, 15 and 16 of the city’s land-use management and development code.
A public hearing was held Thursday prior to the planning commission considering the code change. One community member spoke but did not address the amendment directly.
The ordinance for the amendments is an 11-page document that took over a month to compile, said Mayor Brent Marshall. Studies on prisons in rural communities in New York, Texas and California were considered when writing the legislation, he said.
The studies reviewed the impact on the economy, environment and infrastructure of rural communities. According to the ordinance, many of the purported benefits of a prison have more impact on surrounding counties with better workforce and material resources.
Water concerns were another major part of the city’s argument against a large prison facility. According to the city’s ordinance, a prison could use up to 700 acre feet of water per day — which would limit future growth and development in Grantsville.
Marshall also highlighted the limited highway access as a reason to keep a prison out of Grantsville.
“We also talked about the infrastructure with the roads and the issues that we as residents have dealt with,” he said. “When there’s an accident out on the freeway or on (State Route) 138 or (State Route) 36, it shuts this valley down as that’s the only real artery that we have to travel.”
Planning commission member Gary Pinkham questioned including any opportunity for a jail or other correctional facility within the city limits.
“Why are we leaving the door slightly open … for a smaller facility?” he asked.
Grantsville City Attorney Joel Linares said the decision to leave the opportunity for a smaller facility open was intended to keep the city compliant with state and federal law.
“Outright bans don’t work,” he said.
Marshall said the city consulted with various attorneys to ensure the amendments would not violate state or federal laws.
“The attempt is to stop a large institution that we can’t provide for either in infrastructure, whether it be roads, sewer or water, or for the needs of the inmates,” Linares said. “The language in the ordinance itself is drafted in such a way to show the community cannot supply goods for a facility larger than 250 beds.”
With the planning commission’s approval, the zoning code amendments will next appear before the city council for final approval at meeting Wednesday. A public hearing will be held at the beginning of the meeting at 7 p.m. at Grantsville City Hall.