Studio bill is alive in the Senate
March 4, 2011
A controversial land-use bill that could result in a movie studio being built at Quinn’s Junction still has life in the state Legislature.
The legislation was moving through the Senate last week and the bill received a second reading on the Senate floor on Thursday.
But last Tuesday, at a scheduled committee meeting, the sponsor of Senate Bill 231, Republican Sen. Mark Madsen, was a no-show and there was no vote.
"There weren’t enough votes at the committee meeting, which is why [Madsen] no-showed we believe," Park City Manager Tom Bakaly said in a telephone interview Friday.
Bakaly said he is against the bill.
Before many bills are approved by the Legislature they are voted on in committees and on the floor.
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But lawmakers voted to suspend the rules on Thursday so S.B. 231 could move on to the floor of the Senate without a committee voting on it, Park City Mayor Dana Williams explained.
Williams said he is also against the bill.
If approved, S.B. 231 would prevent local governments from denying film studio projects when proposed in a so-called "film enterprise zone." The bill assigns the power to establish film enterprise zones to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Madsen said a movie studio is needed in Utah for the state’s film industry to grow.
Officials at Raleigh Studios are interested in developing a production facility at Quinn’s Junction. According to attorney Greg Ericksen, the company is interested in building on a 30-acre parcel owned by the Quinn’s Junction Partnership. Ericksen represents the Quinn’s Junction Partnership, which owns land along Park City’s State Road 248 entryway.
But Ericksen has proposed hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial development at Quinn’s Junction, which zoning on the property does not allow, according to Williams.
Some of those who oppose the legislation said Ericksen requested Madsen sponsor S.B. 231 so the studio could be built without adhering to local development codes. But supporters of S.B. 231 claimed local leaders have unfairly blocked the project to prevent a studio from being built along the entryway into Park City.
Sen. Allen Christensen, a North Ogden Republican who represents the East Side of Summit County, said he would vote against S.B. 231.
"[Madsen] went around the committee process by not showing up and then lifting it. He’s playing games with it, astute games, but games nevertheless," Christensen said in a telephone interview Friday. "Sometimes that can backfire because it creates resentment."
Christensen said he is opposed to the bill because it would take zoning authority away from local governments.
"I think it’s spot zoning," Christensen said. "It’s the Legislature interfering with a county and for the state to override the local people it’s just wrong."
Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, a Vernal Republican who represents Park City, said he would also vote against S.B. 231.
"The film industry is certainly an industry we want to do but I think the private enterprise will bring it in," Van Tassell said.
The legislation was listed Friday among bills waiting for a final debate in the Senate.
"I don’t think they’ve got the votes to pass it," Van Tassell said. "But nothing’s dead up here until next Thursday at midnight."
Van Tassell was with a group of state lawmakers on Capitol Hill that watched a presentation from a Raleigh Studios representative last Tuesday.
"The main part of the presentation was ‘Hey, we are real and we have some interest in coming to Utah,’" Van Tassell said.