Kamas Mayor looks to future
Lew Marchant believed he had something to offer his community in 2002 when he ran for mayor of Kamas City.
He served on the City Council for two years and on the Eastern Planning Commission, was active in the LDS community and in the South Summit School District.
"I just felt like it was a time in my life when I had the opportunity to give my service," Marchant said.
The 70-year-old is now in his fourth term as mayor and said he’s enjoyed every minute of it.
"It’s probably been one of the most enjoyable, positive experiences of my life," Marchant said.
Throughout his tenure as mayor, Marchant has proven that he did have something to offer.
Under his watch, Kamas City has experienced steady commercial growth, essentially becoming the "commercial hub" of the valley, as he calls it. The city has focused on annexing properties for commercial or developmental use.
"That’s what we are interested in here," Marchant said. "It’s well known that residential growth costs the cities in infrastructure and services. But it’s the commercial growth that really brings your tax base in."
For example, Weller Recreation was located at an out-of-the-way location in Marion when the owners approached the city about annexing property on the outskirts of the city on State Road 248 and it is the furthest property to the west the city has annexed to date. Weller Recreation held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday.
"We are really excited to have them there," Marchant said. "We really believe that now there will be additional businesses that will start to fill in the gap."
Another property the city annexed is just north of Kamas, the High Star Ranch. A developer purchased two privately owned properties covering about 1,000 acres and then approached the city about annexation.
"We originally told them no," Marchant said. "But after the county said we should reconsider, we did, but with some major conditions to mitigate our concerns and those of the residents."
The city required that the open meadows on either side of State Road 32 be put into an agricultural easement. It also required a conservation easement be placed on the hillside.
"That has been a big project and will probably change the makeup of the city," Marchant said of the High Star Ranch, which features three distinct neighborhoods and an event venue, according to the developer’s website.
Marchant acknowledges that the Kamas he lives in now is quite different than the one he grew up in, when there were only 800 residents. Now that number is closer to 1,800.
One of his main concerns as mayor, Marchant said, is controlling the growth he knows will occur, like the development north of the city. But the key, he said, is controlling it in a way that maintains the lifestyle he’s grown accustomed to.
"If you get too many people moving here, it changes the rural lifestyle," Marchant said. "That’s why the old timers stay here and that’s why the new people come here.
"Quite honestly, I don’t want a lot of people here," he said.
Marchant can be found in his office most Mondays, but said he prefers to have a hands-off approach in dealing with the city’s operations.
"I’m not the kind of manager that has to have my thumb on the employees," he said. "I believe people rise to the abilities that you expect of them and my employees here know what I expect of them. Why do I want to get involved in that? They are the experts and they run the city."
The rest of Marchant’s time is spent driving a South Summit school bus and serving as a counselor at his church.
He and his wife, Joanne, have been married for 48 years, have two adopted children and six grandkids.
When asked if he’d run for mayor for a fifth-term, he laughed, adding "never say never."
"I’ve thought some about it, but still a good year and a half away," Marchant said. "But I definitely would consider it.