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Heber leaders disagree about annexation proposal for 2-acre parcel north of city

A map shows the location of the proposed annexation.
Heber City
A map shows the location of the proposed annexation.

The Heber City Council couldn’t come to an agreement about a petition to annex land north of the city Tuesday night. The application now moves to the next step.

Gary Bush wants just under two acres of his land to be annexed into Heber City.

The land, at 3490 North Highway 40, is within the city’s expansion area and sits next to the North Village development. Bush wants to build seven units with commercial space on the bottom and residential space above.

During the council meeting June 4, city planning consultant Denna Woodbury told the council Bush’s petition was simply to begin considering the annexation proposal.

“The pro is accepting this application will allow us to evaluate further the advantages [to] the city,” she said. “The cons of accepting the petition is there might be a perception that the city is promoting growth by adding another parcel for potential development.”

The land annexation process typically takes about nine months of work, including study by the planning commission and a public hearing.

During the discussion of Bush’s petition, Mayor Heidi Franco read aloud a public comment sent via email from Michael Dixon, who lives next to the property.

“Wasatch County has a zoning violation case against him for illegal buildings and construction debris,” he wrote. “I thought I should bring this to your attention before you consider his petition to be annexed into the city. Mr. Bush is a licensed contractor and knows the rules that he hasn’t followed.”

Dixon complained to the county in December 2021 about numerous zoning violations, including building materials being stored on the land and structures being constructed there without a permit. Bush was charged with a misdemeanor last summer.

The charge is still working its way through court, and a pretrial conference in the lawsuit is currently scheduled for July. Bush says he had been peacefully using his land that way for years until his neighbor complained to the county.

In the end, the city council didn’t act decisively to either approve or deny his petition, since only three councilmembers were voting on this item and all three would have needed to agree: Sid Ostergaard was absent and Mike Johnston recused himself.

Councilmember Yvonne Barney voted against accepting the annexation proposal, making it a 2-1 vote.

“I always vote no for any annexation in that area,” she said. “I’m not going to approve any more agreeing to more density of any kind in that area.”

Bush did not respond to Dixon’s comments during the meeting. But he told KPCW on Wednesday he wants peaceful resolutions with his neighbors and with county and city officials. And he says by annexing into the city, it will lower the amount of density he could build to almost half the units per acre.

Despite the inconclusive vote, there’s a twist: if the council can’t decide one way or the other, the petition automatically moves forward after two weeks. Since councilmembers didn’t deny Bush’s petition, it can go on to further consideration.

The next city council meeting is June 18.