96 South Main Street, PO Box 77, Nephi, Utah 84648 - Voice: 435 623-0525 - FAX: 435 623-4735

On our front page this week

  • Mayor says that city is not stalling new theater development

By Myrna Trauntvein
Times-News Correspondent

Mayor Chad Brough says that contrary to a headline in The Times-News, the city council is not trying to stall developers on constructing a movie theater.

Results of recent court findings have placed even more responsibility on government entities to be accountable with taxpayer's funds and property.

For example, said Chad Brough, Nephi City mayor, findings of the court in the action of taxpayers against city government in Orem when extra incentives were given at the mall there, in order to keep and attract clients when the Provo mall opened, were not in the best interests of taxpayers.

"That was also at the center of the difficulties the Salt Lake County Commissioners had with their county attorney," said Brough. "The courts are upholding the wise use of taxpayer money and resources."

There is a difference, he said, between what a government entity can legally do for private enterprise and for non-profit organizations as far as allowing the use of city property. Non-profit organizations are considered, under the law, to be of benefit to the public which is why the tax-exempt status is allowed in the first place.

"There are some things we can do," said Brough. "We just need to make certain that our ducks are all in a row, legally."

The theater developers had not yet completed a business plan, he said. That was one essential the council would need before city property could be sold or exchanged.

One individual, who was interested in constructing a theater in Nephi found, when a business study was done, that the enterprise would not be profitable. The city will need another 1,000 residents before such a venture could be profitable.

"If the city did allow the construction of the movie theater on the Old Pink School Park, we would need to make certain that the theater could be profitable and would not close down in a year or two."

Once the property was re-zoned to allow a commercial enterprise to be constructed there, anything the city now allows in a commercial zone could be developed there. So if the theater were not profitable and had to be shut-down, the property could be sold to any commercial developer for any allowed use.

Some of those uses would not be good to have in the center of a community.

Of course, said Brough, the city would do all they could to prevent such a use, but there were only so many things which could legally be done. Hopefully, public pressure on the future developer, in such a case, would force a consideration by the developer. That may not be the case.

In addition, he said, an empty building which was privately-owned would need maintenance in order to keep it from becoming an eye-sore. There are enough of those in public view at the present.

"There are things the city can do, legally, to encourage private enterprise," said Brough. "The city is willing to do those things because we, along with all other residents, would like to have a movie theater in Nephi. We all think having a movie theater is important."

There are other options, he said. There are other good properties were the theater could be constructed and the city was willing to pursue all sites. If there were exchanges of like value, if the city could help with installation of utilities, and other legally-allowed items, the council would be happy to agree.

"Some residents have asked about the property owned by one of the four proposed developers, but there isn't enough property at the location," said Brough.

The theater development project would need at least two acres. The property currently owned on South Main Street by one of the developers, he said, was not large enough. It is only one and a quarter acres. There are also some unused structures on the site which would need to be razed in order for the theater complex to be constructed.

All of items of discussion, he said, were still just that--discussions. A great deal of work and time was still needed.

"We presented several alternatives to them (Mike Cowan, Tyler Cowan, and Kelly Andersen)," said Brough. "The ball is now in their court."

"We would all like to see a movie theater in Nephi," he said. "That is one of the pleasant memories of mine--attending the movies here in town. We have all missed the theater since it burned down and would like to see another one not only built but successful."

Chad Brough, mayor, said he welcomes phone calls and letters from constituents and will answer each question and comment addressed to him.

Brough said, in addition to those who contact city hall and ask to have a message relayed, many people send mail to his home or call him at home.

"I have never failed to respond to a call or letter from a person who wanted my reply," he said.

He can also be contacted via e-mail at clb@dcemail.com, said Brough.

"I am interested in what people think," he said. "I would like the chance to talk to them, to write to them, or to respond to their comments so that I understand what they are asking."