Snyderville Basin "secede"
February 20, 2013
An offhand comment by a county resident at a recent Summit County Council meeting has stirred up an issue that hasn’t been discussed in several years – whether the densely populated Snyderville Basin would be better off operating as a city rather than as an unincorporated region of the county.
Woodland resident Tom Clyde suggested that the county should take a fresh look at the possible merits of incorporating the Basin and council member Claudia McMullin said she supported studying the idea.
But any movement in that direction would have to be initiated by the residents, according to County Chief Deputy Attorney Dave Thomas. In the meantime, citizens have begun talking the possible pros and cons of the concept.
Currently municipal services in the Basin are provided by a network of Special Service Districts and county government.
"It’s not working that this area is being so severely taken care of by the county," resident Lucy Archer said. "In Silver Springs, we have to pay for our own drainage system and street lights. There are a bunch of things the county won’t pay for. If we incorporate we will at least have hands on the purse strings and on how we’re going to take care of things that come up that are only relevant to our area and not so much Coalville, Francis and other areas."
Resident Chris Hague referred to the incorporation as a "secession" from the county.
"There’s a lot of frustration with the county government and particularly the Planning Department and the County Council," he said. "So I know of people who are looking into the possibility of forming a separate government and incorporating as a city. We would be seceding from the county government."
The county government "rules" the Snyderville Basin and collects its taxes, he said.
"If the Snyderville Basin seceded from the county and forms its own government, it would have its own tax base," Hague said.
Under Utah law, a county cannot collect the Resort city sales tax, he said.
"So we’re not collecting any revenue from the Canyons, which is one of the biggest resorts in the country, and the county is losing that tax revenue," he explained. "So if the Snyderville Basin incorporated as a city and included the Canyons, the tax would be a significant source of revenue."
The Kimball Junction businesses would be another significant tax revenue stream for a city, he added.
"So if you couple the tax base with the concerns of where the county has been going for the past few years, people begin looking at incorporating," Hague said.
If Snyderville Basin is incorporated, the city boundaries would be determined in the petition, which is required to initiate the incorporation process.
"The boundaries would be whatever the petition to incorporate said they were," Thomas said. "They would have to come in with a plat map with the proposed boundaries of the proposed city. Ultimately, it’s whatever is in the petition that governs what the boundaries are."
Archer hopes that if the Basin becomes incorporated, it will do away with the need for homeowners associations (HOAs).
"If we have an incorporated city that’s already going to take care of some of this stuff, then why would we need HOAs as well, especially if a majority of the people don’t want them?" she asked. "The reason we’ve been tied into having an HOA here so much is because the county says someone has to take care of your drainage system and streetlights, because we’re not going to do it."
As one of the founding members of the Silver Springs HOA 31 years ago, Archer said she has begun to see HOAs as a "bad deal" for residents.
"There are a lot of limitations on your liberty to use your property for how you want to do it," she said. "If you are an independent person who wants to a big garden and chickens, forget it. Or if you are a veteran who would like to wave your flag every day, forget it, because a lot of HOAs don’t let you wave a flag. You can’t even park your car in your driveway overnight. So there’s all these rules plus all the politics and propaganda."
Archer said It’s a small handful of people who end up making the rules.
"I just think HOAs are a really bad way to rule a neighborhood," she said. "And in our neighborhood, it certainly isn’t working. I’ve also talked to people in town and everybody is really disenchanted with their HOA. What controls your neighborhood also controls you."
Whenever the idea of incorporating the Snyderville Basin has been considered in the past, the name "Snyder" has had limited support, Archer said, and she would prefer another name be used.
"I am very adamant about not using Snyder in the name, because although they were some of the original founders, so were others like the Kimballs. I have yet to meet anyone who likes the name Snyder. And when you look in the phone book, there isn’t a single business with the name Snyder.
Instead, Archer suggests the name "Moose Valley," because it represents local nature and wildlife.
Either way, Archer said that if incorporation is considered, she hopes the county will seek resident participation in the study process.
"I know sometimes they don’t want a lot of participation because you can get a lot of opinions and they would just rather do it their way," she said. "But I think resident participation will make for a more cohesive and stronger city. A lot of people in this area feel left out of processes. People want to be involved but they want to feel like you want them involved."