Park City’s glitzy ski slopes and fights about development in the Snyderville Basin are miles away from farmland in the rural, North Summit hamlet of Wanship.
But as land prices in western Summit County skyrocket, with one restaurant and gas station, builders have not yet eyed property in Wanship as they have neighboring Oakley and Kamas.
Situated at the mouth of Silver Creek Canyon, Wanship may one day attract commuters from Salt Lake City as homeowners anxious to escape traffic gridlock on the Wasatch Front.
Wanship resident Larry Vernon says the area’s residents — not Summit County — should determine how the community grows.
As part of unincorporated Summit County, Wanship residents depend on the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission and Summit County commissioners to make planning-and-zoning decisions for the area.
"I think the people of Wanship should determine their own destiny," Vernon said, adding that Wanship was the first Summit County seat. "Since Wanship was the first county seat, it, by definition, is a municipality Once you’re a municipality, you remain a municipality until it’s disincorporated."
He claims Wanship residents don’t have representation on the East Side planning commission.
"If Wanship wants to become a town, I don’t know what the procedure is," Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer said.
But residents in Wanship have never decided to dissolve the town’s government, Vernon said, adding, "per the state law, Wanship is a municipality."
"When Brigham Young was the territorial governor, he set up these towns," said Vernon, who owns roughly 40 acres of land near his house on South West Hoytsville Road. "I think it’s probably better than what we’ve got with the county."
He insists Wanship residents should define the boundaries of the town and elect a mayor and town council.
"Under our traditional standards of law, they were supposed to have had general elections, they are supposed to have a town council, they are supposed to be collecting taxes," Summit County Attorney David Brickey countered.
According to Brickey, Vernon relies on the book, A History of Summit County, to support his claims that Wanship was the Summit County seat between 1866 and 1869.
"There is not one shred of documentation anywhere at the County Clerk’s Office," Brickey said. "We have a book that was written in 1998 based on some journal from the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. You would think in 137 years there would have been one town meeting that discussed some of these issues."
Vernon insists he wouldn’t seek political office in Wanship.
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The Solomon Children’s Justice Center of Summit County has moved into its new home, a space officials hope will provide privacy and support to families experiencing trauma.