City council finalizes sale of property in East Carbon
East Carbon Attorney Jeremiah Humes approached councilmembers Tuesday to present the final agreement for a land sale that would make Vital Energy a large property owner in the small municipality.
The agreement, ratified by the council, conveys more than 180 acres of property to the Delaware company for the sale cost of $217,372.
The property, situated on the north and south ends of Utah Highway 123 to the east of Pacific Central will be used to construct a bio-fuels plant. The facility will convert soy bean oil to bio-diesel fuel.
"Part of this contract is going to be used to flush more information out of the company," said Humes. "From there, the council will be able to decide what East Carbon is willing to accept from Vital Energy."
The execution of the contract shall be made subject to buyer and seller approving and signing a subsequent master development agreement.
The MDA shall set forth additional terms and conditions concerning the development and use of the property, as stated in the contract
The terms and conditions in question include, but are not limited to, the fees or money which shall flow from the buyer to the seller on an ongoing basis.
The master development agreement shall be fully executed no later than 90 days prior to closing.
Humes indicated that the contract only approves the sale of the land, not the construction of the facility.
"All environmental and building codes will have to be met in addition to the land sale agreement," said Humes.
Humes further reported that he had specified in the agreement that Vital Energy cannot sell or turn over this land sale without the permission of East Carbon City.
"On many sale agreements, the purchaser has the right to sell the contract to another interested party. But I specifically noted that Vital Energy may not sell this contract or the property without the approval of the city."
Mayor Orlando LaFontaine then addressed the council concerning his understanding of the agreement.
"This contract allows us to go into the development phase with Vital Energy," stated LaFontaine. "From there we can determine what the specifics of their building and production processes are and move ahead."
Following LaFontaine's remarks, Councilmember David Avery had several questions for the city attorney.
"I have seen several companies set up and then change the structure of their business and then, boom, all of a sudden the benefit to the city who sold them the land goes away," said Avery. "Is there a chance we could be facing that in this case?"
Humes had several recommendations for the city in answering Avery's question.
"As a city we are not used to a facility of this size coming into the community," said Humes. "If you need to hire an engineer or other staff to evaluate their business plan then that is something that should be considered. It is also something that could possibly be paid for by the incoming company."
As for the city's responsibility, there are things that will have to be provided to the company.
"We do have to provide them with a building inspector, we do want to be the permitting agency in this transaction," said LaFontaine. "I really feel like this is going to be a beneficial partnership."
Following the council's approval of the final land sale agreement, East Carbon's youth citizens approached the city officials concerning the re-opening of the Grassy Trail Reservoir for public use.
"We want to know what we have to do so that we can get back into our reservoir," said East Carbon youth representative Jesse Candelaria.
Candelaria was joined by approximately 25 residents ages 7 to 15 years old who showed interest in gaining access to the restricted lake.
"I saw the most horrific thing concerning our reservoir," commented Councilmember Darlene Kuhns. "I have a brochure from St. George advertising our reservoir as private lake."
The East Carbon youth were joined by local resident Brian Mena, who also commented on the situation.
"They block off our reservoir a mile away and we all know they use the lake as part of their property," said Mena. Everyone knows they fish up there but the citizens of East Carbon are locked out. They have locked the public out of an area we payed for and now it's a private lake for the rich. We came here today because we know this is going to be a process. We just wanted some real answers about what the steps are going to be as far as getting up to the reservoir and re-opening it for public use."
LaFontaine responded to the concerns raised by Mena and the local youth.
"I have met with commissioner Krompel several times and he has cut the lock on that gate before and has said he will do it again," explained the East Carbon mayor. "But the important thing is that we teach our kids to approach this the right way. I know you guys want to get up there but the right thing to do is to take the legal steps, not to sneak into what is private property."
Even if fishing is not immediately opened, LaFontaine indicated that members of the general public have the right to request access to walk in the area and enjoy the reservoir for non-invasive recreation.
There is currently a binding legal document that prohibits many public activities at the reservoir.
While the East Carbon City, Sunnyside City and Sunnyside Co-Generation plant do own the reservoir and 125 foot of maintenance path around it, the property encompassing the lake is owned by PentaCreek.
Humes concluded the agenda item with these comments for the citizens, "Just understanding the process that it will take to change the agreement is important and I will look into that but realize the legal battle it could take to open the lake up is going to be expensive."
Humes stated that he would report to the council concerning the legalities of opening the reservoir during next month's meetings.