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Wasatch County Council drafts resolution against bypass road through full length of North Fields

While some in Wasatch County support building a road through the North Fields to decrease Main Street traffic congestion, others say the move would tarnish the Heber Valley's "crown jewel."
Ben Lasseter
While some in Wasatch County support building a road through the North Fields to decrease Main Street traffic congestion, others say the move would tarnish the Heber Valley's "crown jewel."

As the study for how to reduce Heber City traffic continues, the Wasatch County Council plans to take a position against a route that would interrupt open space.

The council drafted, but didn’t vote on, a message that opposes the idea to build a road through the North Fields, which are thousands of acres of pastures north of Heber City. Council members like Steve Farrell tweaked the wording of a draft resolution on the issue.

“I’d like to see a ‘whereas’ stating why we’re opposed to it,” he said, “that we want to preserve the rural nature or the pristine nature of the North Fields, and I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t say ‘North Fields and the agricultural character of this area.’”

The council didn’t officially pass the resolution because the discussion Wednesday happened during a work session. An official vote is expected next week. Council members who spoke Wednesday indicated they were in agreement about making the official statement.

The proposal in question is part of an ongoing study by the Utah Department of Transportation. In October, UDOT released 13 rough designs for roads and improvements to existing roads that could reduce traffic in downtown Heber City.

UDOT released 13 proposals for reducing traffic on Heber City Main Street. Some of those, pictured above, are bypass routes west and east of downtown Heber. The Wasatch County Council's resolution would opposed the western bypass labeled "WD."

UDOT is currently reviewing local and environmental impacts, as well as public input for 13 proposals it released last October. Those include several bypass routes west of town, like the one the council resolution would oppose.

UDOT says it will reveal a smaller selection of alternatives still under consideration later this spring. Starting next month, it will hold a public comment period for feedback on the new release.

Councilmember Danny Goode said the resolution would send a unified message from the elected county representatives.

“The purpose of this, it’s twofold,” Goode said. “One is to inform the public about what we feel about that option, and then two is, when the open comment period comes, we can submit this resolution as a comment to UDOT.”

Only UDOT will have authority over the final decision of whether to build a bypass, not local governments.

In addition to protecting the rural character, council members added mention of the open space bond that voters passed in 2018 to the statement. They called that an indicator that voters want the fields to remain undeveloped.

Also during the work meeting, the council was supposed to get an update from Wasatch County Assessor Todd Griffin about the property appraisal process. Griffin was out sick and couldn’t attend the meeting, so the council postponed the conversation with him to next week’s regular meeting.

County Manager Dustin Grabau gave the council a condensed update based on his communication with Griffin. He said the office had made progress toward its goal of completing yearly valuations as well as catching up on properties overdue from past years.

Grabau also told the council one of the county’s assessors, Tom Eatchel, died recently in a plane crash in Cedar City. That has brought about an extra challenge to an already busy office ahead of the May 22 deadline to submit appraisals.

Council members asked for next week’s report to include how home values have changed overall since last year.

A full recording of the work session is available on the Wasatch County website at wasatch.utah.gov.

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