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Midway looks to change boundary map to further open space goals

Wasatch County will consider contributing to help put a conservation easement on open space just outside Midway.
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Wasatch County will consider contributing to help put a conservation easement on open space just outside Midway.

Midway leaders say they want “a seat at the table” for future development decisions by expanding their annexation map.

Planning commissioners considered three possible maps for land east of town that could one day be brought into Midway’s city limits.

It was an early conversation in what could become a months-long process if town leaders opt to move forward. Planning director Michael Henke said preserving open space is the main priority driving the proposal. Land conservation was a major focus when Midway revised its general plan a couple of years ago.

“The city is very much interested in preserving land – and the North Fields, specifically,” he said. “If the city were to extend the boundary across the Provo River to the east side, then we would also be able to contribute funds toward preserving property on the east side of the river.”

Any changes to the map do not mean that land is automatically part of Midway. Instead, it just offers landowners the option to petition to become part of the city. To match Midway’s goals, Henke said the city would also most likely amend its zoning map to include larger parcels of land.

The North Fields’ future has been a hotly debated topic in Wasatch County as UDOT works to draft a plan for a bypass road to pull traffic away from Heber City’s Main Street.

City planner Katie Villani said although actually annexing the land is unpredictable, amending the map could give town leaders a bigger role in discussions about the bypass route.

“However far you extend, it keeps the neighboring entity from coming that far, because state code doesn’t like overlap,” she said. “So if you come up to where a bypass is, or take one side of it, it keeps the other entity from coming over and taking both sides – theoretically. And they at least have to notify you and include you in the conversation about that.”

Several commissioners said they want to take a proactive approach to the town’s annexation policy.

“This is a hedge, giving us as a community a seat at the table,” one said. “It doesn’t control anybody; it doesn’t force anybody into anything. But if we don’t act in playing offense, we will be playing defense… and right now, we have no option but to play defense.”

Another commissioner said he wanted a “bullish” approach to the map to potentially gain more control over the future of the Provo River corridor.

But the planning commission is not ready to make any big decisions yet. Commissioners plan to revisit the issue within the next few months before making a recommendation to the council.

In the meantime, more open space issues are on the horizon for Midway: at the city council meeting Tuesday, June 18, leaders will meet with Utah Open Lands to discuss funding for a conservation easement on 119 acres of the Lundin family’s farmland.