The landowners behind West Hills incorporation
The area of a proposed new town, West Hills, includes the land of a development group who asked Kamas for annexation and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which hasn't weighed in yet.
To create a new town west of Kamas and east of the Jordanelle Reservoir, people who own at least 10% of the affected area need to sign a petition.
West Hills’ petition sponsor, attorney and area landowner Derek Anderson, told KPCW owners of about 20% signed the paperwork that was submitted to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor April 27.
Those signatures don’t become public until the office verifies them, which state staff said could take weeks.
Anderson said more landowners could be interested and supportive of the project, and fliers explaining the proposal will go out to residents in West Hills’ boundaries soon.
The Church of Jesus Christ’s asset management arm, Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc., manages over 700 acres in the northwest corner of the proposed township.
Although the Church did not respond in time for this report, Anderson confirmed it did not sign the petition, and could remove its land from the proposed area.
It appears the LDS Church doesn’t have a position on the potential town right now: Anderson said it didn’t even know about the incorporation proposal until West Hills sent out its press release May 2.
Anderson said it made sense to include the Church’s land in the town’s boundaries because neighboring residents had signed the petition. Otherwise, there’d be a hole in the map.
One group that did sign the petition was Cascade Capital Group, LLC. CCG is a development group that was originally in talks with the Ure family to purchase its ranch after it went on the market in the past couple years.
CCG representative Sam Castor said he couldn’t comment on why that deal fell through. Former Summit County Councilmember David Ure did not respond to requests for comment in time for this report.
Now Summit County has an option on the Ure’s 834 acres—over 700 of which fall within West Hills—with the stated goal of preserving it as open space.
Anderson and the rest of the West Hills landowner cooperative have said they approve of the county's plan. Anderson said excluding the Ure property would have created an island, violating state statute.
Castor was part of a delegation that asked Kamas City in 2021 to annex CCG’s land, about 260 acres on the southwestern side of West Hills.
CCG pitched a development of 1,600 residential units, which, at the time, Mayor Matt McCormick said was too much, worrying such a development would more than double Kamas’ population.
When the city council pushed back on parts of CCG’s proposal at an October 2021 meeting, Castor said the firm could explore incorporation as an option to get more favorable zoning.
“We don't want to spend two years having these conversations, when we could have taken six months and incorporated,” Castor said.
Anderson told KPCW the West Hills cooperative has no such development plans. His 30 acres, on the northside of state Route 248 in the middle of West Hills, is zoned for one house per 80 acres right now.
He said the issue isn’t that he can’t develop it as much as it is that he can't let his family build a house on the land.
In a similar vein as the “modest new growth” emphasized in West Hills’ press release, Castor said CCG could add things like a store or a gas station to its land to benefit the community.
The Lieutenant Governor’s office has 90 days to respond to residents’ initial petition. The state will conduct a feasibility study, which includes making sure West Hills could raise enough tax revenue to survive.
Click here to view a sample of a previous feasibility study.
If the state approves the proposal to incorporate, its sponsors will need to collect signatures from registered voters who own at least 10% of the land in the area and hold 7% of the land value. After that, the proposal would be on the ballot in the next election.
If a majority of the voters approve the measure, West Hills will become a town. It would elect its own leaders and maybe decide on a new name.
Three other proposed incorporations are currently underway in Utah. Those are Riddermark in Iron County, Spring Lake in Utah County and Ogden Valley in Weber County.