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County Watch

Compiled by Patrick Parkinson

After a civil racketeering lawsuit was filed against the Summit County Commission in October, the county’s insurer, Utah Local Government Trust, told officials they weren’t covered in the fight.

A group of attorneys from Salt Lake are currently pursuing nearly 10 development-related lawsuits against the county under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) laws. Prosecutors have traditionally used the rules to go after organized crime, however, Anderson Development attorney Michael Hutchings, who filed the lawsuit, claims county officials have conspired illegally to damage landowners’ property rights in the Snyderville Basin.

According to Hutchings, civil RICO actions are rare.

The government trust insures Summit County during courtroom battles to help cover the costs of litigation, Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer said.

However, because of the criminal nature of the RICO lawsuit, the insurer initially refused to cover litigation costs for the case.

Accompanied by Dave Thomas, the county’s chief deputy civil attorney, and Summit County Auditor Blake Frazier, Richer recently appealed the decision to the trust’s board. "The board did reverse the earlier decision from the staff and they will be covering us fully for the RICO case," Richer said.

Litigation costs for all of the lawsuits filed against the county by Anderson Development are now insured, he added. "They said that because of the criminal nature of the complaint, therefore, they’re not obligated to cover us," Richer said. Richer, reading from a letter written by insurer staffers to the County Commission, said, "we suspect this was the intent of plaintiffs’ counsel, and it seems that they have succeeded in achieving this goal." New Uinta chief ranger

A U.S. Forest Service district ranger in Nevada has been tapped to temporarily replace retiring Uinta National Forest Supervisor Pete Karp.

Dan Dallas, who is currently a district ranger in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Elko, Nev., will replace Karp January 4. He expects to work in the Uinta National Forest near Heber for three years.

According to Karp, "[Dallas’] experience and abilities will complement and enhance the many programs and the challenges associated with the forest."

Dallas began his career with the Forest Service in 1989 as a minerals management specialist. He has also worked in National Forests in Washington and Montana, and in resource management for the National Resource Conservation Service, a Forest Service press release states.

The Idaho native and former Intermountain Ranger of the Year reportedly returned recently from a trip to Ethiopia where he performed rangeland assessments for the Agency for International Development. BFI’s holiday schedule

Until Jan. 7, Allied Waste Services, formerly BFI, has delayed trash pick up in Summit County for one day in observance of the New Year’s Day and Christmas holidays Monday pickups will be Tuesday, Tuesday pickups will be Wednesday and so on.

Trash and recycling containers must be put out no later than 7 a.m. on the service day, a recent BFI press release states.

Meanwhile, until Dec. 31, "extra bagged Christmas trash will be picked up outside of the container for your convenience," the press release states. Contact Allied Waste at 615-8311 for more information. Board of Adjustment appointments

The Summit County Commission recently appointed three people to serve on the county’s Board of Adjustment.

Sitting Board of Adjustment members Matt Weller and Eve Berman were each appointed to additional three-year terms on the board.

Oftentimes, the BOA is a citizen’s last line of defense in planning disputes with county officials before going to court, Weller said. "It’s just a way to help out the average guy who gets himself in a position where he can’t do anything, which happens," he added.

When residents need a variation on their building project and planners refuse to make exceptions to zoning rules, appeals are made to the BOA. "The real difference is if it’s self imposed," Weller said. "To help out the person that got themselves in a jam, because they didn’t realize, or it wasn’t explained to them real clearly, that’s one thing. But the guy that just wants to step on the rules, I have no sympathy for."


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