Woodland residents move toward forming a town
Five people in Woodland took the first official step toward incorporating the town at a crowded public hearing Wednesday in Coalville. The Woodland area is southeast of Francis and the town would consist of about 175 people.
"Sandwiched between Francis and the Provo River is Woodland," Woodland resident Earl McNeil said at the hearing before the Summit County Council. "The proposed area, is the town of Woodland along Lower River (Road) up to the Francis boundary, the Elk Meadows subdivision, and it goes up to approximately the Woodland Cemetery."
McNeil is one of the petitioners who have about 90 days to gather signatures from a majority of registered voters in the proposed boundary to form the municipality.
Incorporating Woodland could allow citizens to pick town councilpersons and a mayor.
"This is really amazing that we’re not a town," petitioner Deloy Bisel Jr. said at the hearing. "We just feel like we want to be a community, have an identity of our own and our own leadership."
Nobody petitioning to form the town wants high-density development in Woodland, he stressed.
"We have no interest in developing land into thousands and thousands of homes," petitioner Elizabeth Lefler said. "We feel like this is an important step in preserving Woodland."
The petition excludes the Woodland Hills subdivision because too many homeowners there objected to incorporation.
"I don’t think we should be dividing our community," Woodland Hills resident Pat Calicchio said. "I like the services we now have from the county."
But strict zoning rules in unincorporated eastern Summit County stifle commercial growth in Woodland, Bisel said.
"It’s about local control," Bisel said.
Supporters of incorporating Woodland hope to remove county officials from making development decisions in the town.
"There are many steps before this really happens," Summit County Councilman Chris Robinson said.
Summit County may choose to conduct a financial feasibility study to determine whether projected revenues in the new town in the first three years after incorporation would exceed the projected costs of government services, according to deputy Summit County attorney Helen Strachan.
"I don’t think revenues are going to exceed expenses, I think it might be just the opposite," Robinson said.
If a study says revenues in the first three years could exceed costs by more than 25 percent the county could deny the petition, Strachan explained.
With just a smattering of businesses in Woodland most revenue in the new town would need to come from property taxes.
Woodland resident Sheri Beliveau owns the Woodland Farmhouse Inn on State Road 35, the area’s main thoroughfare.
"I would love to see Woodland become a town. But I know there is not a lot of commercial activity out there," Beliveau said. "As far as I can tell, it’s very difficult to earn a living on State Road 35."
Woodland Hills resident John Williams said the tax base isn’t sufficient to support a new town.
"I’m very concerned," Williams told the Summit County Council. "There just is not enough money in this little town to provide services."
For most services the new town would likely contract with Summit County, McNeil explained.
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City Hall in December posted strong sales-tax numbers, powering past projections and nearly equaling the figure from the same month in the previous year, as Park City continued to beat expectations amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.