Summit County is always apprehensive about surprises appearing at the annual Utah Legislature.
Looking back on the 2021 edition, Deputy County Manager Janna Young said that the legislative curveballs appeared early enough for them to handle; or any last-minute proposals didn’t go anywhere.
Young said they monitored the Legislature through a task force drawn from county staff; their lobbyist; and the Utah Association of Counties.
Clearly, they wanted to avoid a repeat of last year’s session, when a last-minute amendment to a bill enabled Hideout’s hostile annexation into Summit County.
This year a bill, HB 115, dealt with annexations across county or city boundaries. But the county worked on it through a Land Use Task Force, and developers and local governments came to a consensus.
“While it doesn’t have everything the county would like to see, it does fix many of the challenges we experience during that Hideout situation, such as requiring notice and signatory rights to counties, and prohibiting the annexation of an area included in a certified incorporation petition. There was a substitute at one point in the session that came out on the bill that really concerned us, cause it essentially took all approval authority away from the county. And so our attorney’s office worked with the Utah Association of Counties to negotiate some language, which ended up getting passed in the final bill, that we’re happy about.”
The provision says that a third-party feasibility study has to approve the annexation.
“And that feasibility study has to look at and evaluate key components that we’re always concerned about, such as—can the annexation occur without leaving an area of the county unserviceable. Is the tax generated in the annexation area, making sure it’s not a significant grab of revenues away from the entity losing the land. And then the feasibility of service-delivery to that new area. Everyone involved in the annexation has to participate in the study, so it’s not biased or skewed. And then if it comes back favorable, so the results will dictate if it’s okay to move forward with the annexation, and if that study comes back favorable, then essentially the county has to approve it. So we feel a lot better having that language in there.”
On a related item, Andersen Development made headlines recently by putting out feelers to land owners in the Garff Ranches area about maybe becoming a city.
However, Young said they didn’t see any significant changes to incorporation law in this session.
“There was a bill, SB 213, that was introduced by Senator Thatcher, that addressed incorporation. But the focus of that was mainly to prevent a city from annexing if an incorporation petition had been filed. And that provision was actually included in HB 115. So Senator Thatcher ended up not pursuing that bill. He only introduced it in case HB 115 didn’t pass.”
Deputy Summit County Manager Janna Young.