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Don't buy SITLA's promises

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Dear HCN,

Moab residents have good reason to be concerned about development of lands managed by Utah’s State Institutional and Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). "Luxury looms over Moab" (HCN, 3/26/01: Luxury looms over Moab).

According to SITLA’s Ric McBrier, "this will be a quality project." Before buying that promise, Moab residents should view the eyesore on state lands near Teasdale, Utah, for an example of the quality SITLA promotes. Here SITLA, in partnership with a Chevy Chase, Md., developer, has built a visually and environmentally destructive road that local residents find offensive. There was no notification or consultation with local residents or elected officials. County zoning ordinances were ignored. In the process, an archaeological site was bulldozed.

Local residents have made several suggestions and requests designed to mitigate visual and environmental damage. All were ignored. We even gathered a few hundred signatures on a petition asking Gov. Leavitt to take some action. Those, too, were ignored.

When questioned, SITLA officials simply quote the mandate to maximize revenue as they retreat to their bunker. However, in this case, that doesn’t wash. Had they thoroughly analyzed the project, the agreement with the developer could have been structured in a manner that would have resulted in more money going to the school trust.

Utah’s SITLA is an agency in serious need of an independent oversight review. Don’t look for one to happen anytime soon. The bunker is well guarded.

Robert G. Williams
Teasdale, Utah

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