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Potential Lime developer explains concept
By TERRI HARBER
An abandoned lime quarry and cement plant near Huntington is a viable location for a sustainable community with businesses, services, residences, elected officials — and a substantial tax base, a prospective developer says.
Steven Golieb began eyeing the more than 1,000 acres after driving by on the way to Portland a couple of years ago. The resident of Orem, Utah, presented his concept to Baker County Commissioners on Wednesday as part of a work session.
He requested and will soon receive a letter from the county allowing him to begin soil testing on the site. This would determine how much environmental cleanup would be necessary to make the land inhabitable.
Golieb then needs another letter from the county explaining that the land would be available. This would be so potential businesses would seriously consider settling there.
“Then I could come back with hard evidence” of its viability, Golieb told the commissioners.
He said that more than 20 companies and organizations have shown varying degrees of interest in the site, including two colleges and a K-12 boarding school.
It’s a location with moneymaking potential. For example, Interstate 84 is accessible to and from the area. Services could be established where there are none currently for many miles in both directions.
The educational aspect alone would benefit residents throughout the county by providing higher learning opportunities, Golieb said.
Randy Joseph late last year started operating a six-turbine wind farm to the north. Wind, solar and hydroelectric sources would make the site sustainable. Used water would be made cleaner with a wetlands-based concept that slowly flows the water through, according to Golieb.
“The land could keep 3,000 to 4,000 people,” he said.
The county ended up owning the property after foreclosure proceedings in 1999. It had been home to a cement factory until around 1980. Quarry operations ceased even earlier. A variety of pollutants likely need to be cleaned up because of its previous use. He intends to pursue grant funding and donations to pay for the cleanup.
Golieb wants to incorporate Lime. This process requires that people live there, however. Though he believes incorporation would make it easier to obtain some cleanup and, subsequently, development grants, his main goal is to get started on testing for pollutants.
A well-developed concept for reuse likely would attract funding as well as inhabitants, he believes.Commission Chairman Fred Warner Jr. remarked that to get help with the effort from government or most other institutions that Golieb needs to present the concept in “a nice, neat package.”
Other necessities, such as examining what uses are allowed and whether it’s truly a viable spot for residential construction, also need to be considered.
The commissioners want to see the area developed. Efforts by Paul Vaden to lure some sort of industrial operation to the site proved fruitless. The county took back its sole property rights last June after Vaden’s exclusive option to buy had expired.
This is why the commissioners are keeping an open mind at this initial stage.
“Economically it would be good for the county,” said Commissioner Carl Stiff.
“Let’s go — I like your idea,” said Commissioner Tim Kerns.
The commissioners say they want to see who would be working with him before progressing further than providing this initial use permission. It will require a great deal more goal-reaching before any transfer of ownership happens, such as a viable legal entity taking responsible of the community, Warner said.
A firmer overall proposal would lead to further brainstorming. It’s important to begin identifying “significant challenges,” he told Golieb.
These likely would be separate issues from any pollution caused by past land use. One challenge is that many parts of the site are described as “rugged.”
It’s an idea that “will probably be met with much skepticism,” but it could lead to “making that site conductive to something,” Warner said.
Golieb majored in environmental science at Utah Valley University. He started thinking about applying sustainability within a community setting about five years ago.
People in business and education, for example, are becoming increasingly more interested in the concept of sustainability, he also said.
Golieb said one misconception people have about his community concept is that it would be some sort of a commune. Some people become leery when the term “sustainability” is used in connection to anything, he said after the meeting.
The term simply means managing resources so they can continue to be available for as long as possible. Applying the concept to environmental resources is just one example of a practice.