Bill might impact Hoytsville incorporation
February 22, 2008
Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, told a House committee Thursday that officials in Summit County impacted his property rights with overly restrictive zoning laws.
"The right of private property exceeds that of all other rights put together," Brown said.
Brown is sponsoring legislation that could help North Summit residents create their own town government in Hoytsville. Brown is listed as the owner of a home at 255 E. Spring Canyon Road in Hoytsville, according to the Office of the Summit County Recorder.
"The property that I currently live on was owned by my ancestors before there was the existence of county government," Brown said about land his family owns in North Summit. "Perhaps there are people there who have had their property rights taken away already."
House Bill 164 would allow private property owners within the proposed incorporation area who represent a sizable chunk of the private land and its value to sign a petition to incorporate.
The bill, though, prohibits the filing of a petition to form a town if its initial sponsors own more than 40 percent of the total land within the incorporation area.
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HB 164 defines a town as a contiguous area with fewer than 1,000 people. The process to incorporate Hoytsville could begin when at least five different property owners request a public hearing with the Office of the Summit County Clerk.
Within 10 days of the hearing request the clerk would determine whether the petition, which must be signed by five sponsors, complies with state law, HB 164 states.
Should the petition comply, a date for a hearing at a public facility in the area of incorporation would be noticed.
The chair of the Summit County Commission would conduct the public hearings in Hoytsville, the bill states.
"The role of the [county] is to be involved in calling public meetings and conducting those public meetings," Brown said. "The right of self determination is left to the people who might be affected."
According to HB 164, "[a] petition may not be filed if the private real property owned by the petition sponsors cumulatively exceeds 40 percent of the total private land within the area proposed to be incorporated as a town."
Before incorporation of Hoytsville could occur, under HB 164 a majority of voters in the area would need to support the petition.
Hoytsville residents would elect councilpersons and a mayor to file articles of incorporation with the state if the petition is approved.
Requiring voters to sign the incorporation petition rather than vote in an election helps eliminate outsiders from influencing the contest, Brown said.
"I don’t think it should be influenced by outside money and outside influence," he told members of the House Political Subdivisions Committee.
Brown hopes HB 164 will address issues caused by his House Bill 466, which passed last year and allowed a developer to petition to essentially create his own town in Wasatch County. HB 466 also allows large landowners in new towns to nominate political candidates.
"I think the representative has come up with a pretty good balance to give people in the community a say," Utah Association of Counties spokesman Adam Trupp said.
If the bill passes, however, the new law would not likely apply retroactively to Aspen developer Dean Sellers, who irked neighbors near Heber with his Aspen proposal, Brown said.
"The law is what it is and we can’t change the rules in the middle of the ballgame," Brown explained.
A clause added to the new legislation Thursday would require petitioners of all new towns provide economic feasibility studies to detail how new municipalities would impact existing tax base.
Some supporters of incorporating Hoytsville have claimed taxes in the new town would not likely increase.
The committee voted unanimously to send HB 164 to the full House for debate.