Questions remain about Midway greenhouse projects
Ryan Summerlin March 20, 2013
On the surface it looks like the Midway City Council has taken steps to protect its citizens from commercial greenhouse projects within the city limits. But have they really? They have conducted several public hearings on the subject and requested that the Planning Commission study and make recommendations regarding a " Code Amendment" that would more specifically address stringent language defining purpose, intent, and requirements for commercial greenhouses. The Planning Commission has done an exemplary job of following through with this assigned task by also conducting several open workshops and public hearings on the subject. Consequently, Proposed Ordinance 2012-20 Amending Title 16 (Land Use) of the Midway City Municipal Code regarding greenhouses was recommended by the Midway City Planning Commission.
At the March 13 Midway City Council meeting, the staff made a presentation describing in detail what the Planning Commission had accomplished. Once again, the council opened the floor to receive comments from the citizenry. Their transparency on the subject is to be admired and commended.
After reviewing the various requirements and restrictions recommended by the Planning Commission, any potential commercial greenhouse entrepreneur would find it extremely difficult to make a profit from such a business venture. No decision has been made by the council and another public hearing will probably be scheduled prior to a final decision in April.
Many citizens have brought up valid concerns such as: (1) Should the ordinance require a comprehensive "Environmental Impact Study" at the expense of the applicant prior to accepting an application for a commercial greenhouse proposal? (2) Should a substantial bond be required by the applicant to ensure that the city is not held liable for abandoned projects which may result in water and soil contamination, impacts from irrigation run-off on adjacent properties and/or any other unknown environmental crisis that is subject to sediment and erosion control measures? (3) Most importantly, Midway is no longer an agriculturally driven community. Over time, it has evolved into a beautiful rural residential, resort and recreational setting. The vast majority of citizens feel that the integrity of the majestic surroundings and the natural ambiance of Midway should be preserved as long as possible.
At this point, all of the attention has been focused on "land use within Midway City limits," but the real elephant in the room is: What about the property that surrounds Midway city limits? More specifically, the acreage adjacent to Wasatch Golf Course. It contains geothermal hot springs which are most beneficial to operating a greenhouse complex that conducts hydroponic and aquaponic procedures. That land is presently under the jurisdiction of Wasatch County. The questions before us are: What restrictions does the county require for land use? What protection do the citizens of Midway have regarding the use of that acreage? Can the county do whatever it wishes regarding its development? Will they consider property values, environmental issues, and topographical changes to the area before allowing an applicant to make a specific proposal?
I ardently urge all Midway citizens to attend the next Wasatch County meeting and express their concerns before it is too late!