Utah farmer fighting plans to turn property into soccer fields

FARMINGTON, Utah -- A Farmington landowner hopes to stop plans to build new soccer fields on his farm property.

Alan Bangerter said the city wants his land because it's located right next to a new city park complex.

Bangerter said he's a fourth generation farmer, and has been in the industry all his life. His family farms on property in Farmington, Bountiful, Centerville and Woods Cross. While they own some of the property, he said they lease the land on others.

On Wednesday, he spent the afternoon spreading fertilizer and tilling dirt at a small Woods Cross property, which Bangerter said he started renting this year. In a few days, he'll begin planting.

"It won't grow as good of crops," Bangerter explained, because he said it can take years to build up good soil.

Over in Farmington on 650 West, he owns a 22.3-acre parcel that Bangerter said he's spent more than a decade working on.

"It gets better every year, produces more every year," he said.

He bought the land after he said UDOT purchased 30 acres from him to build Legacy Parkway, forcing him to relocate farming operations.

Right next door to his farm property sits a new Farmington City park complex, complete with fields, courts and a gymnasium.

Bangerter said 10 years ago, the city approached him about the land.

"They wanted to buy the property," he said. "We rejected that option."

A decade later, he said the city now wants half of his property for new soccer fields.

Just down the way on West Glovers Lane, Farmington City owns soccer fields that sit right in the path of the proposed route for the future West Davis Corridor highway. UDOT told Fox 13 on Wednesday that they're obligated to replace any public park land they overtake. They said they found three alternate pieces of land to move the soccer fields to.

The final decision on where to place the new soccer fields, UDOT said, was up to Farmington City.

"UDOT went to Farmington City with several options, and they really only wanted ours," Bangerter said.

Fox 13 attempted to reach out to Farmington City Manager Dave Millheim three times by phone Wednesday, as well as through email. Fox 13 sent an email to Mayor Jim Talbot and every council person on Wednesday, with no response.

Bangerter said UDOT would pay him for the land, but for him it's not about money. Bangerter explained that it's difficult trying to find new, farmable land to replace what he owns.

On top of the roughly 11 acres, he said UDOT would take over about five to eight acres on a different piece of farmland he owns, to make way for the West Davis Corridor.

That totals around 20 acres of lost farmland for Bangerter.

"We want to stay farming, my family wants to stay farming," he said. "We want to keep our livelihood."

Bangerter said he's hoping to stop the purchase by filing a petition to designate the parcel as an Agricultural Protection Area (APA). He said it would protect the land from most eminent domain situations for 20 years.

An online petition's gathered more than 5,400 signatures in support of Bangerter.

Bangerter said he wants Farmington City to work with UDOT on other land options.

"We hope it can be worked," he said. "So that everybody's happy—that Farmington has a soccer field somewhere close by, that we can continue farming."