MARRIOTT-SLATERVILLE -- The Utah Department of Transportation's red tape is hurting small businesses, one local businessman says.
Jay Carnahan recently opened a State Farm Insurance office at 1294 W. 12th St., near the Ogden border.
The 63-year-old building is a former farmhouse that Carnahan's grandfather Leon built in 1948.
Because the property is on 12th Street, a state-owned road, Carnahan had to gain approval from UDOT for access to his business.
UDOT approved the request in the fall, but Carnahan said that, as a small businessman with limited time, money and resources, getting the approval from the state's transportation department was a hassle.
"Without a doubt, the process I went through with UDOT was the biggest obstacle for me as a small businessman," Carnahan said.
The story begins when Carnahan first bought the property from family in July 2008. His original plan for the property was to turn it into a carwash.
Carnahan obtained all of the proper UDOT permits, including a traffic study on how many vehicles would enter the carwash each day.
When Carnahan changed his business plan, he had to start the process all over again, he said.
"I had to resubmit everything. I even had to do a new traffic study, even though I had already done one and the insurance office would have far less traffic than the carwash."
As part of the access-approval process, UDOT required Carnahan to purchase a $25,000 insurance bond to cover any possible damage that could occur to state-owned property that abuts Carnahan's property.
Carnahan also agreed to a "cross access easement" behind his office that would accommodate future shared access if adjacent properties are developed.
"These are all things that I didn't want, but basically had to agree to because I'm not a big corporation who can hire high-priced lawyers," he said.
"If I wanted to open my office and get to work, I had to agree to this stuff."
Carnahan also said that, during the approval process, it was difficult to get timely correspondence from the state. UDOT, he said, had even been sending information regarding the project to an engineer who didn't work directly for him.
To top things off, Carnahan said, the state placed freeway signs in the middle of his property, in front of his office.
Carnahan said he spent countless hours and thousands of dollars getting approval from the state. He opened his office Nov. 1, a month later than he wanted to.
UDOT Region One spokesman Vic Saunders said the state works hard to accommodate small-business owners, and while the process sometimes can be drawn out longer than expected, it ensures that the state highway system is safe, well maintained and in efficient working order for the taxpayer.
Saunders said the insurance bond, the traffic study and the cross access agreement are all a normal part of the process.
"We have not asked Mr. Carnahan to fulfill any requirements or obtain any permits that aren't asked of any other business or individual located adjacent to a state highway," Sanders said.
"In most cases, the business owners are willing to comply."
Saunders also said the freeway signs on Carnahan's lot would be moved to a more appropriate location.
Marriott-Slaterville officials approved Carnahan's site plan for the business in June. UDOT's site approval came in mid-October.
Carnahan said Marriott-Slaterville officials helped him greatly in sorting things out with UDOT.
Marriott-Slaterville City Attorney Bill Morris said his city, along with officials from Harrisville, recently held a special meeting with UDOT to see if there is anything the state can do to speed up the process that business owners like Carnahan go through.
"People have been getting through the city process a lot faster than the UDOT process," Morris said. "But we've met with UDOT, and we're satisfied they are going to work with us."
Meanwhile, Carnahan is just happy his business is open.
"We're just glad we've made it through this and we've finally opened our doors."