Utah County Commissioners Delay a Clever Scheme to Fool Citizens to Eliminate Competition for West Mountain Gravel Pit and Mines

by Robert John Stevens, January 9, 2018

Summary

A scheme was devised to eliminate competition for the Kilgore Gravel Pit and the other existing mining and earth excavation operations on West Mountain.

The failed attempt influenced the Planning Commission to recommend to the County Commissioners a friendly new zoning designation named the Grazing (G-1) Zone. Citizens took the bait and passionately supported it at the meeting.

Once the new zone was approved, the next item was to approve regulation for the entire mountain be protected under the new grazing zone except for the Kilgore Gravel Pit, adjacent lands to expand their operation, and the other existing mining and earth excavation operations on West Mountain and to disallow future competitors.

The Article

Passionate public comments made at today’s Utah County Commissioner’s Meeting delayed the approval of new regulations that will eliminate future competition for the Kilgore Benjamin Gravel Pit and the other existing mining and earth excavation operations on West Mountain, at least for another week.

The diabolical scheme was cleverly disguised as desirable by first establishing West Mountain as a new grazing zone which has great appeal to county residents who adamantly oppose the Kilgore Gravel Pit and then eliminating future competition.

To understand, imagine you acquire a permit to establish an operation to extract and sell gravel from a beautiful mountainside. Neighbors who live in the area become infuriated. They hate the large trucks travelling to and from the pit, the noise, air pollution, dust, crop damage due to the dust, and the permanent scarring of the mountainside.

You know the road has no shoulders and wasn’t built to accommodate large trucks. Although you can command your drivers to be careful and obey traffic laws, you know other truckers are paid by the load and are therefore motivated to drive faster because if they carry more loads they earn more money.

Additionally, the speed limit is 50 mph through a four-mile equestrian/residential area and in many places along the road the adjacent land is three to five feet lower — definitely hazardous for pedestrians, bicyclists and smaller vehicles to compete with large, heavy trucks. You certainly don’t want to bear the enormous expense required to widen the road.

Angry citizens demand the county government require you to cease operations, perhaps by denying renewal of your permit.

Now just suppose you could create a scheme to fool the public, disallow future competitors and expand your operation all at the same time. Here’s how:

Influence the Planning Commission to recommend to the County Commissioners a friendly new zoning designation named the Grazing (G-1) Zone. Citizens will easily take the bait and passionately support it. Once approved, you then request the entire mountain be protected under the new grazing zone except for your gravel pit, adjacent lands to expand your operation, and the other existing mining and earth excavation operations.

Once approved, you’ve eliminated future competitors. No new mining or earth excavation operations may be formed on your mountain. Your operation is now an established monopoly.

I didn’t make these things up. Read the evidence:

The Utah County Commission has asked the Planning Commission to review a proposed new zoning designation, the Grazing (G-1) Zone, which is part of a separate application. This new zone would maintain the grazing of livestock on the open range and the location of activities and land uses not appropriate near urban centers in the dry mountain and desert areas of the county, while preventing any new earth extraction operations and other potentially incompatible uses with residential and agricultural uses from commencing operation.UTAH COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION STAFF REPORT for November 21, 2017

The meeting this morning was packed with angry citizens. When the public hearing began, I stood up first and opposed approval of the new zoning designation. I explained that a new zoning designation for grazing would create monopolies; however, knowing the population growth forecasts and that the commissioners want the Kilgore Benjamin Gravel Pit to remain in operation, I argued that in a free society, anyone should be allowed to sell excess dirt off their property and that the proper role of government is not to create monopolies.

A lady stood up immediately after I concluded my comments and said that was the stupidest thing she ever heard.

Later in the meeting, Robert Moore the Utah County Attorney explained to the commissioners that nothing they could do at today’s meeting would change the status of the Kilgore Gravel Pit and that the existing operations could expand within their boundaries.

Did the Planning Commission Staff work in collusion with the applicant? Why does the Planning Commission Staff Report designate the applicant as the Utah County Commission?

Although clever, this scheme follows a well-established pattern of deception by first getting a law passed to authorize illegal activities, and then to authorize otherwise illegal operation under the new laws.

When I discovered the scheme, I was amazed it had gone so far as to be recommended by the Planning Commission Staff for county commissioner approval.

Well-polished Commissioner Bill Lee, who graduated in Political Science from BYU, was wise enough to delay the commissioner vote until next week after being told by Attorney Moore that he had no authority at today’s meeting to appease the angry citizens and shut down the Kilgore Gravel Pit. He must have realized he couldn’t approve the regulations and create monopolies without immediate consequences. Commissioner Nathan Ivie seconded the motion.

Delayed political decisions are usually done to avoid public outcry. Some are pre-decided and just put off to be later passed unnoticed.

If there was no collusion, how can the Planning Commission Staff be so stupid to not recognize the scheme? Will citizens demand an independent investigation?

What will already angry citizens do when they realize they were fooled and led like sheep to support the opposite of what they want?


Supporting Documents

Pop and Dwelling Unit Forcast for Gravel Study West Mtn – Final

UTAH COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION STAFF REPORT November 21, 2017

County commission pushes back decision on rezone of more than 10,000 acresby Katie England, Provo Daily Herald, January 10, 2018

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