August 19, 2019

URGENT: SLC/RDA mtg to approve tax increment that would start building of polluting port

Hello friends – we were notified that the Salt Lake City Council, acting in their role as the Redevelopment Agency,  on Tuesday, August 20, at 2 pm, will be considering moving forward with the next steps in their development agreement with the Colmena Group by adopting a resolution committing up to $28 million in tax increment to the Colmena Group and their partners for Phase 1 of their development on the greenfield north of I-80.

If the city council moves forward with this development deal they will be taking the first step in creating the polluting port we’re worried about.

We are organizing on social media to get people to attend and speak.  We also have a regularly scheduled organizing meeting tonight (Monday) at 6 pm at the Main Library, 4th floor conference room, where we will be discussing this.

I have drafted a letter that sums up some of the main concerns:


Dear Council Members:

We respectfully request that you do not adopt a resolution authorizing a property tax increment reimbursement of up to $28 million to NWQ, LLC.

There are several reasons for our request.

First and foremost, it is unwise to move forward with specific, large scale and impactful development when there is litigation pending to resolve issues of jurisdiction, and when comprehensive planning for development in the northwest quadrant/proposed port area hasn’t been completed.  We’ve been told the Port Authority will have a draft plan available in early 2020.

Moving forward now locks-in a development pattern of intensive warehouse uses, as NWQ, LLC plans to build 10 new warehouses with a combined total of approximately 6 million square feet over the next 5 years. 

These warehouses would add more than 2,000 new truck trips, and 3,300 new car trips into the I-80 corridor (based on “truck bays” and “parking stalls” specified by developers in marketing materials).

Along with the lack of planning, is lack of analysis of environmental harm this development will inflict.  What will thousands of additional diesel truck trips and car trips do to our air quality?  What will massive warehouse development do to wildlife habitat?  What will stormwater runoff from these newly paved surfaces do to water quality and how will that impact the millions of birds that rely on the Great Salt Lake ecosystem? These are just a few of the critical questions that must be answered.

One of the reasons cited for bestowing tax increment on the developers is because it’s a hard, therefore expensive, place to build and they can’t do it without a tax break from Salt Lake City.  For example, they expect to spend $28 million for “Burdened site improvements” related to soil stabilization due to the sandy soil and highwater table.

Should we really be subsidizing development in such an environmentally fragile landscape that is difficult and expensive to build in?

Moving forward without answers to these questions and others, will subject Salt Lake City and our community members to the risks of harm, without the assurance of any significant benefit.  And these decisions will determine the future of Salt Lake City, as well as the Salt Lake and Tooele valleys.

Therefore, we urge you to put this process on hold, until we have better information and answers to the questions about environmental harm.



Deeda Seed
Senior Utah Field Campaigner 
Center for Biological Diversity


Click here to read the RDA staff report.

Click here to read information about the Northwest Quadrant Overlay District. 

Click here to read information about Light Manufacturing Zoning.

Click here to read the Master Development and Reimbursement Agreement.

Click here to read the Administrative Transmittal and Memo.