Feasibility study will determine whether Hoytsville can survive as a town
Too many people think the campaign to incorporate Hoytsville as a town stems from property owner’s wishes to “do whatever we want to do with our property,” according to longtime resident Bill Wilde, one of the leaders of the effort. And that’s not the case, he added.
“We have different desires, needs and ideas,” he said. “I think we have a better focus of what we want to have happen to our ground. It doesn’t mean we get to do whatever, but it does mean we would have a say in what happens to our properties.”
Wilde, along four other Hoytsville homeowners, filed paperwork with Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s office in December to apply for incorporation. Last month, enough signatures were gathered from the area’s residents to clear the first step toward townhood.
Residents needed to get signatures from 20 percent of Hoytsville’s registered voters and landowners with property assessed at a certain value to trigger a feasibility study that will determine whether the area can survive as a town. The state was notified that those thresholds had been met in March.
“They have qualified for the next step, which is an incorporation study,” said Justin Lee, director of elections for the lieutenant governor’s office. “We are in the process of getting a feasibility consultant to conduct the study and move the process forward from there.”
The feasibility study will examine the area’s ability to sustain itself, Lee said. It will look at whether the area can bring in enough revenue and what kind of services the town will need. If the results of the study show that the town is even slightly viable, the decision will go to voters.
Any area that wants to incorporate is required to have five sponsors or residents file an application with the lieutenant governor’s office. The area is also required to have between 100 and 1,000 residents. Hoytsville has about 430 residents.
The study must be conducted within 60 days from the time of contract with a feasibility consultant. Once the study is complete, a public meeting will be held to reveal the results to residents. Lee said a vote for incorporation could make it on the November ballot.
“With this timeline, that is certainly feasible,” he said.
The push for incorporation comes after nearly 20 Hoytsville landowners petitioned Coalville in August to discuss annexing 45 parcels into its city limits. The application covered about 940 acres of unincorporated land east of the city, between Hoytsville Road and Creamery Lane. The Coalville City Council required a response from the landowners within 30 days of reviewing the application, but the applicants chose not to continue the process.
“During those meetings, not all of Hoytsville’s residents were in agreeance with being annexed in to Coalville,” Wilde said. “We didn’t think it looked like a good fit because of water and sewer.”
After the annexation attempt failed, Wilde said, landowners began tossing around the decision to become a town. He said a committee attempted to incorporate the area more than 10 years ago, but it included more acreage than what is in the current proposal.
“That footprint showed about 2,000 acres,” he said. “Right now we have a footprint of about 400 acres. We handled it a little more different, with our footprint consisting of what is covered by the Hoytsville water company. This is only about 50 percent of Hoytsville. We are hoping others will later be drawn in.”
Wilde is confident Hoytsville could sustain itself. He acknowledged the lack of commercial business, but highlighted the ability to increase the area’s tax base through incorporation.
He said residents need to understand it would require the establishment of a local government and it would cost money. He added, “People need to understand every aspect of it.”
“Yes we can make it, but we have to be willing,” he said. “The biggest thing is we would have control over that. We get to decide if we want to pay a mayor or our council. We would establish ordinances. It’s going to take some work and people have to be willing to step up to the plate. If we have that, then it is 100 percent doable.
“I don’t want the county to think we are doing this to separate ourselves from the county,” he added. “We just like the idea of having a say over our own matters.”
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The Summit County Council is poised to extend its order allowing school mask requirements at a meeting Monday. No school is close to the case-number threshold, according to state data.