The Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) decided not to go with the water district’s bid to lease 101 acres of SITLA land near Jackson Flat reservoir for a golf course.
SITLA’s director of communications Marla Kennedy said, “SITLA received several proposals for the land in Kane County, all of which were vetted through our regular process. It was determined early in the process that a proposal to build a golf course was not in the best interest of the trust and its beneficiaries. SITLA is moving forward with the process and evaluating other proposals we received.”
Kane County Water Conservancy District (KCWCD) had put in a bid for a long term lease with SITLA. The SITLA plot was central to the golf course. Under the design plans by golf course architect David McLay Kidd, about half of the 200-acre golf course would have been located on SITLA land.
KCWCD’s executive director Mike Noel said that he was informed about the decision by letter. “I love SITLA and have been working with them for many years. We didn’t expect any special favors,” added Noel.
The letter states:
“Mr. Mike Noel,
The School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) regrets to inform you that it will not be moving forward with the proposed golf course on the Kanab 101 acre parcel. We recognize the immense amount of work that has been put into the proposed golf course and consequently sharing this news with you is difficult. The Trust has enjoyed a long relationship with you and recognizes you as a true friend to the Trust.
lf you have any questions regarding the details of this letter, please contact me at your convenience.
Real Estate Planning and Development
Trust Lands Administration”
Sky Chaney, president of the Taxpayer Association of Kane County, said, “SITLA made the right decision. The people of Kane County don’t want this golf course, and we need to conserve our public revenue and our irreplaceable water.”
A survey by the Taxpayer Association of 800 Kane County residents found that the vast majority (93 percent of those who took the survey) were opposed to spending public money to build a golf course in Kanab.
Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain said, “It is unfortunate there was so much controversy and division over the golf course project. There was no need for this to have happened, and it was not good for our community. Hopefully, we can move on to happier times in the new year.”
SITLA received two other bids to buy the land for residential development, in addition to the KCWCD bid. The proposals were reviewed by the SITLA Development Board Committee in conjunction with SITLA staff. The Development Board decided against the golf course proposal at their December 10 meeting.
Noel said, “A golf course has little environmental impact. It is concerning to me that all the water that residential homes are using will be culinary with a 100 percent depletion.”
SITLA chose residential development over a golf course because it is expected to generate more money for the Trust’s beneficiaries than the golf course would have. The specific terms of the bids have not been made public.
SITLA is bound by Utah law to choose the land use that will have the highest return for Utah schools and state institutions. It administers land all across Utah and generates revenue through energy and mineral leases and royalties; real estate development, sales, leases, and easements. SITLA has a total of $2.5 billion in funds.
SITLA’s board of directors is expected to make the final decision about which of the two residential development proposals to go with at their January 20 meeting.