A House bill changing the way gravel, sand and rock aggregate operations are governed was amended in the Senate of the Utah Legislature before a committee gave its approval.
The Senate Business and Labor Committee voted 5-2 on Monday to send House Bill 288, Critical Infrastructure Materials, to the full Senate with a favorable recommendation.
“Gravel, sand and rock products are essential to our economy and essential to the future of Utah,” Rep. Logan Wilde, R-Croydon, sponsor of HB 288, told the Senate committee. “When you move aggregate over 23 miles in span it doubles the cost. Those kind of figures make it very cost prohibitive to move sand and gravel much over 50 miles.”
HB 288 defines vested critical infrastructure materials as sand, gravel or rock aggregate operations that are currently in operation in accordance with a legal nonconforming use or a permit issued by a local government prior to that government adopting prohibitions, restrictions, or other limits on the operation.
The vested rights of a critical infrastructure materials operator, according to HB 288, include the right to use, operate, construct, reconstruct, restore, maintain, repair, alter, substitute, modernize, upgrade, and replace equipment, processes, facilities, and buildings; and the right to discontinue, suspend, terminate, deactivate, or continue and reactivate, temporarily or permanently, all or any part of the operations.
The bill also allows for the creation of critical infrastructure protection areas by local legislative bodies, which are similar to existing protection areas for agriculture, mining and industry to protect critical infrastructure operations from residential encroachment.
Before recommending HB 288 to the full Senate, the committee approved amendments to the bill that require expansion of critical infrastructure operations to go through normal approval process by local government and specifies that the bill applies to existing legal nonconforming and permitted operations.
One amendment also specifies that the creation of a critical infrastructure protection area is a legislative act, making the creation of protection areas subject to a referendum.
During the public hearing before the Senate committee, representatives of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, the Association of General Contractors, and the Utah Home Builders Association spoke in favor of the bill.
Citing environmental and health concerns, representatives of the West Mountain Matters group, Utah Moms for Clean Air, the Utah Technology Council, and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment spoke in opposition to the bill.
HB 288 is on the calendar for the full Senate. If the Senate approves the bill, it will be sent back to the House for consideration of the Senate amendments.