MILLCREEK — Salt Lake City and Millcreek leaders chuckled together when Salt Lake City Councilwoman Amy Fowler commented on how far the two cities have come from when they were butting heads six months ago.
“This went from a process where in the beginning it seemed that the plan included annexing my house,” Fowler said, laughing at a news conference Tuesday, “to now creating a real friendship and partnership between these two cities.”
The land dispute between Salt Lake City and newly incorporated Millcreek — involving Salt Lake City’s decades-old annexation of the commercial area called the Brickyard near 1100 East and 3300 South — became so tense earlier this year, Millcreek leaders had gone to a state lawmaker for backup, and Salt Lake City leaders scrambled as the threat of a state intervention loomed.
But that bill never materialized as Millcreek and Salt Lake City leaders eventually agreed to work together on a possible compromise — and Tuesday they announced they had struck a deal at a news conference outside of Riverside Bar on Woodland Avenue, just outside the newly proposed boundary lines.
“Is it perfect for Millcreek? No,” Millcreek City Councilwoman Cheri Jackson said. “But neither is it perfect for Salt Lake City. To me, it seems like a fair compromise for both cities, both trying to work as good neighbors.”
The compromise, if approved, will let bad blood dry over an annexation that happened more than 40 years ago, when Salt Lake City swallowed the roughly 50-acre Brickyard area of unincorporated Salt Lake County. For decades, residents of what is now Millcreek city have wanted the area back, saying it’s always been a part of their community’s fabric.
As Millcreek leaders began planning their new town center, interest in the Brickyard area renewed. But what they were particularly eyeing was a roughly 5-acre peninsula of Salt Lake City awkwardly jutting into the heart of Millcreek, making it difficult to plan the new city’s town center.
The deal city leaders announced was to allow Millcreek to annex that peninsula, the area between Woodland and Miller avenues, east of 1300 East to Highland Drive. Salt Lake City would also agree to cede Millcreek the tax-exempt land around the 2300 East roundabout south of I-80 so Millcreek can landscape it as a gateway to the city.
In exchange, Millcreek leaders will agree to “forever cede any claim to” the rest of Brickyard to Salt Lake City and not seek legislation or other further boundary adjustments, said Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini.
Millcreek would also be required to pay Salt Lake City the same amount of taxes Salt Lake City currently receives from the annexed peninsula for 10 years, totalling about $61,000 a year or $610,000 over 10 years. After the decade is over, Millcreek will then be able to begin collecting property taxes from the area.
The plan will be hashed out in an interlocal agreement slated to come before both city councils in the coming weeks. If finalized, the agreement will require both Salt Lake City and Millcreek to cooperate on traffic, transit and development of the property within all of Brickyard and Millcreek’s city center into the future.
Silvestrini called Millcreek’s promise to leave the rest of Brickyard alone “our biggest give,” but he said it’s worth it to allow for planning of a future town center and better relations with Salt Lake City.
“The good news for all the residents of Millcreek and Salt Lake City is that there is great feeling between our city councils and we have agreed to jointly plan this area for the betterment of both residents of Millcreek and Salt Lake City,” he said.
“I think we’ve built relationships that will last through this and last forever,” he said.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski noted Salt Lake City will continue to provide services in the area (mainly water), so residents and businesses in the area can be assured “Salt Lake City isn’t just walking away.”
“This truly is a partnership and one that will last a lifetime,” she said.
Salt Lake City Councilman Charlie Luke lauded the compromise as a way to find a solution at the city-level rather than turning to state intervention.
“Local government is the best place for these types of decisions,” he said.
The Salt Lake City Council was set to review the interlocal agreement later Tuesday, with public hearings and action expected in coming months. Millcreek’s City Council is also slated to review it, hold public hearings and consider adoption later this month and into December.