August 21, 2019

Executive Director's Letter to SLC Council re: Inland Port Tax Benefit

August 19, 2019

Dear Council Members:

Friends of Great Salt Lake (Friends) urges you vote against the resolution extending a $28 million property tax increment reimbursement to NWQ, LLC.  As you no doubt are aware, Friends works to preserve and protect the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the Lake through education, research, advocacy and the arts.  For a variety of reasons, continued development pressures on the fringes of the Lake pose a substantial threat to one of the most underappreciated parts of the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem – the uplands that surround the Lake and that are home to a variety of bird species that nest and feed in this habitat.  Not only would the additional warehouses that are being proposed continue the destruction of these greenfields, but the additional air pollution that would result from the vehicle traffic associated with the warehouses would make our already challenged air quality even worse.

It is one thing for private property owners to pursue this type of development on their own, but it is quite another for the Salt Lake City Council, acting in its capacity as a Redevelopment Agency, to offer a substantial amount of tax dollars to help them achieve this development.  The fact is that there is no need for the Council to offer this incentive.  If the market exists to support the additional warehouse space, that development will happen on its own – without those tax dollars.  And if it takes $28 million in tax incentives because this site is unsuited for development because of soil stability, that is a clear signal that these warehouses should be built elsewhere.

At this point in time, without a clear understanding of how this type of development would fit into the Port Authority’s plans, offering this incentive is premature.  It is also premature because jurisdictional issues have yet to be resolved and planning for the northwest quadrant has not been completed.  Without knowing what these pieces of this particular puzzle look like, now is not the time to make a decision of this magnitude.

Friends therefore asks that you either deny this request or delay a decision on this matter until additional information becomes available.

Lynn de Freitas