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Utah Legislature: UTA could become commercial development partner

SALT LAKE CITY (Deseret News) — The House approved a bill that will allow the Utah Transit Authority to partner with developers and build retail-office-residential centers on UTA-owned land.

Allowing the centers, called "transit-oriented developments" is just one issue addressed in SB272, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton.

The bill also allows the UTA general manager to become a chief executive officer.

"UTA's grown and someone over the rails would be general manager of the rail system," said Rep. Bradley Last, R-St. George, who sponsored the bill in the House. "Someone over the buses would be the general manager over the bus system. Then you'd have a CEO."

The bill also gives UTA an additional board of trustees member, which UTA requested.

"Our board is currently even, and it's never good to have an even number," said Justin Jones, UTA's government relations manager. "We want a 15th for those close votes."

An environmental group warned legislators about the bill with fliers. To get the bill passed, Stevenson negotiated with some legislators, who inserted provisions to restrict UTA's power, Last said. For instance, UTA cannot have more than five transit-oriented development projects at once.

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