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FARMINGTON — A fourth-generation Davis County farmer won’t see part of his property converted to soccer fields after Farmington officials voted to protect his land this week.
But the mayor of Farmington says that protection might not be enough to protect the farm.
Farmington City Council members voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve an agricultural protection application for a 22-acre parcel of Bangerter Farms. At the council meeting, Alan Bangerter said he was grateful that the council was considering agricultural protection for the land.
“We appreciate the support that we’ve had, and it’s been surprising to me,” he said.
Bangerter’s property, located near 500 S. 650 West in Farmington, was proposed as a possible location for soccer fields, according to Farmington Mayor Jim Talbot.
A city park on 1100 West will be destroyed when the forthcoming West Davis Corridor Highway is built in 2020, Talbot said during Tuesday’s meeting. The city is obligated to relocate the soccer fields currently located at the park when the highway is built where the park now stands, according to Talbot.
In a statement read before the council’s vote on Tuesday, Talbot said city officials would ask the Utah Department of Transportation to look for alternative locations for the soccer field relocation. However, that would leave another Farmington property owner facing condemnation, he said.
City officials also had considered a conservation easement for the property along with the agricultural protection, which Talbot said “would give an extra layer of protection to provide better long-term open space.”
Without that easement, Talbot said the agricultural protection might not be enough to preserve the land.
“No city is impacted more by the West Davis Corridor than Farmington,” Talbot said. “The city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars … to determine the best way to plan for this massive impact to our community.”
Talbot, City Manager Dave Millheim and City Attorney Todd Godfrey did not respond to emails on Wednesday.
Several hundred people packed Farmington City Hall during Tuesday's meeting, and a handful spoke in favor of the agricultural protection during a two-hour public hearing, according to Randall Edwards, attorney for the Bangerter family.
I have every hope that UDOT and Farmington City will sit down and find some other location (for the soccer fields).
–Randall Edwards, attorney for the Bangerter family
The agricultural protection applies under state law, so state and local governments have some restrictions under the protection, according to Edwards.
However, agricultural protections don’t apply to the federal government. Since the West Davis Corridor is a federally-funded highway project, UDOT might not be bound by that protection, Edwards said.
UDOT officials have said they want to cooperate with the Bangerters, though, according to Edwards.
“I have every hope that UDOT and Farmington City will sit down and find some other location (for the soccer fields),” Edwards said Wednesday.
The Bangerter Farm has been in operation for more than 100 years, Edwards said. The farm produces all kinds of vegetables and sells to various farmers markets, wholesalers and restaurants in the Davis County area.
The farm also donates large amounts of produce to Utah food banks throughout the growing season, Edwards said. During the season, the farm employs more than 100 teenagers, many of whom are working their first jobs on the farm, he said.
Edwards said Bangerter just wants to continue farming, and is not interested in seeing the legacy of his family’s farm change.
“We were encouraged by the way things worked out in Farmington (on Tuesday),” Edwards said. “We were very encouraged that the public has shown support for this.”