Hoytsville incorporation vote ‘not surprising,’ some say
When Hoytsville residents petitioned Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s office to incorporate the area in eastern Summit County known as Hoytsville, they figured the autonomy would help produce a better community.
“The idea was just to see if we could better ourselves as a town,” said Bill Wilde, one of the leaders of the effort. “It was to see if we could do better. It wasn’t so much about getting away from the county. We just thought maybe we would have a little better of an idea about how we could run our small town and what we wanted.”
The measure was put to voters last week and preliminary results showed it overwhelmingly failed, with 192 votes against incorporation to 69 in favor. More than 50 percent of voters would have had to support incorporation for Hoytsville to have become a town on Jan. 1, 2020. It is the second failed vote to incorporate the area within the last decade.
Wilde was one of five Hoytsville homeowners who filed paperwork with Cox’s office to apply for incorporation in 2017. Any area that wants to incorporate is required to have between 100 and 1,000 residents.
Signatures from 20 percent of Hoytsville’s registered voters and landowners triggered a feasibility study in the spring that determined the area could have survived as a town. Approximately 0.8 square miles were considered for incorporation, and the town would have had an estimated population of 453 people, with seven businesses employing more than 80 people.
Wilde said he decided at the last minute to vote in favor of the measure. He said interest in the matter among his neighbors began to dissipate over the last several weeks, which made him question his support.
“I figured if there is any chance, then I am going to vote for it,” he said. “I had said I didn’t want it to pass if we don’t have the support and if people aren’t willing to step up and participate. But, I just figured if it went through we would make people step up.”
Wilde said he wasn’t surprised with the outcome. He said fewer than half of the area’s residents had shown up to the informational meetings in the weeks leading up to the vote. But, he ultimately blamed the measure’s failure on residents’ uncertainty about a large swath of land that would have been included in the town’s footprint.
“The very first meeting I felt like we had a 50/50 chance, but as it went on I could tell people were really concerned about this so-called new developer that is coming to Hoytsville,” Wilde said. “Out of the 3,000 acres that would have made up the town, about 1,500 are up for sale. There a lot of concerns and a lot of fear about what will happen to that ground.”
Concerns were raised about whether a large developer would be able to sue the town, as well as the costs residents would incur if the area became incorporated and how services such as snow removal and law enforcement would be handled.
Wilde speculated that the desire to incorporate likely died with the vote. He guessed that surrounding areas, including Wanship, could re-examine the idea or consider seeking annexation into Coalville.
“I think we’ve missed our chance,” he said. “There are a lot of rumors of big development going on in Coalville on the west side so I could see something happening there. That was part of my fear and one of my reasons for trying this was to not be annexed into Coalville.”
Wade Wilde, one of the other five petitioners, disagreed with Bill Wilde. He suspects the desire to be autonomous from the county will only increase over time as more landowners experience the difficulties associated with the county’s building process.
“I feel like the regulations that have been put on people who are getting a building permit has been a little heavy handed,” he said. “I think people just need to go through that process to understand it better.”
Wade Wilde didn’t disclose whether he ended up voting for the measure. But, he admitted he also wasn’t surprised at the results.
“I think it will take a little while before we hear another talk about incorporation,” he said. “It’s been about 10 years since the last one. But, when things start to happen over in our side of the county, maybe people will have a change of mind.”
If Hoytsville residents want to explore the idea of incorporation again, a new petition could be submitted to Cox’s office. The new application would follow the same process the recent one did.
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Court report: Week of June 22