The Heber City Council voted 4 to 1 in favor of a 30-year Memorandum of Understanding between the City and Wasatch County on principals of annexation protocol, land use and utility service policies. Negotiations have gone on for months and they’ll be ready to accept applications as soon as the Wasatch County Council approves the agreement. Carolyn Murray has this:
The Wasatch County Council is expected approve the MOU in their August 29th meeting. Heber City Mayor, Kelleen Potter says she’s glad the issue has been resolved even though the agreements are not legally binding.
“It started with the county proposing an interlocal agreement but as the city discussed it, there really wasn’t any support for an interlocal agreement. We did not believe it was a good idea. At least I can speak for myself because I was a member of the Council when we first started talking about it, that that was the right thing to do to bind future elected city councils to things that were requested by a County Council. And they wanted it to be 50 years into the future. Technically, it’s not legally binding but I guess it shows sort of the spirit and the intentions of the elected bodies.” Potter says the North Villge and the 11,000-acre Sorenson Property already have development rights and once the agreement is finalized, the City would be able to consider annexation applications from the developers.
“So, the County has already given them building rights and that’s the reason why the City is interested in annexing it and considering it because it will be urban type development and the question is is that good to have that right on our border or do we want to have it right inside our city boundaries.”
One member of the Heber City Council, Jeffrey Smith voted against the MOU because he doesn’t agree with the amount of control the County maintains in the agreement. He told KPCW the City has passed many new ordinances that will preserve the annexation area in the way the County had set it up. These new ordinances mirror closely the County’s. He says the final draft of the MOU has been reworked to be fairer but he is concerned the arrangement could lead to a more binding interlocal agreement that would be over reaching and would take away Heber’s ability to govern itself. Potter says she understands the concerns Smith has about allowing the County to influence the development of a project inside the city.
“You know, I can’t really speak for him but I can say generally, there’s always been some…there’s always been conversation about the relationship between Waswatch County and Heber City. Some people would argue that this is a normal process for a city to do is to consider annexing areas near their boundaries. For the County to come and say you have to do all these things. It appears to be overreach. But I can see someone’s perspective that would say why would you even agree to the County oversight. You have elected officials in the City and if the City annexes an area, then those are the people who should be making those decisions.”
Heber City Council member, Ron Crittendon told the Council “Wasatch County has put a lot of work into these issues and he’s not inclined to make significant changes to what they’ve done.”