Wanship debate sparks heated exchange in Coalville
Larry Vernon demanded this week that the Summit County Commission declare Wanship a town and begin the process for electing a mayor and councilors in the North Summit hamlet.
Wanship was incorporated around the time it served as the Summit County seat between 1866 and 1869, Vernon claimed.
"We need some boundaries," he added.
Moving the county seat to Coalville did not dissolve the town of Wanship, he said.
"It think what we have here is a town," Vernon told commissioners Wednesday. "Municipalities exist in perpetuity unless disincorporated according to law."
But County Commissioner Bob Richer disagreed.
In a testy exchange with Vernon, Richer insisted commissioners would not stand in the way if Wanship residents petition the county to become a municipality.
"We do not have a problem with Wanship becoming a town," Richer said.
Vernon countered, "You’re denying the people of Wanship a vote."
"We are not denying the people of Wanship a vote for crying out loud," responded Richer.
Commissioners refused Vernon’s request they immediately define boundaries for the municipality. The town’s boundaries could resemble those of the cemetery district in Wanship, Vernon said.
Wanship is situated at the mouth of Silver Creek Canyon and could one day be a bedroom community for Park City and Salt Lake.
But the area must incorporate if Wanship residents hope to guide growth in the town, Vernon said, adding that the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission doesn’t represent the area adequately.
"People of Wanship can self govern themselves," Vernon said.
When Utah became a state Wanship was not designated a municipality, deputy Summit County attorney David Thomas said.
"There is not one shred of documentation anywhere at the County Clerk’s Office," Summit County Attorney David Brickey said during a recent interview.
Wanship is not incorporated, Brickey added.
"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," he added.
Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme insists residents must petition the county before Wanship can incorporate.
"We’re not your stumbling block," Richer told Vernon. "Maybe, just maybe, some of the people there don’t want to be part of this town."
Vernon, who owns roughly 40 acres near his home on South West Hoytsville Road, says he wouldn’t seek elected office in Wanship.
"I’ll see what I can do with the state attorney general," Vernon told the County Commission as he left this week’s meeting.
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