This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Posted: 11:03 AM- A new town-incorporation bill cleared the Utah Senate on Tuesday and would become law the instant Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. signs it. But that could be too late for Eden residents who have been ensnared by Powder Mountain's designs to become a resort town.
A last-minute effort by Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, to make HB164 retroactive fizzled. The bill, earlier passed by the House, then sailed through the Senate to replace the controversial law that set the stage for feuds over proposed incorporations of Aspen, Hideout and Independence in Wasatch County. All three failed but Independence has reapplied.
The law, adopted in 2007, allows property owners to draw boundary lines and petition for incorporation as long as they own 50 percent or more of the land and the proposed town includes at least 100 residents. Mayors and town councils are to serve as appointed officials until an election two years after incorporation.
By contrast, HB164 would require that at least half the residents within a proposed town support such a petition. A mayor and a town council would be elected at the onset of incorporation.
Christensen gave his regrets to a group of residents from Weber County's Eden who had gathered on Capitol Hill.
"This legislative body made a mistake a year ago," he said. "I humbly apologize. I voted for that bill. I had no idea what I was voting for."
Eden resident Darla Longhurst-Van Zeben said taxpayers in her neighborhood would be under the thumb of a mayor and a town council appointed by Powder Mountain developers.
"Our sense of community was shattered a few weeks ago when we found out we were going to be part of Powder Mountain."
She fears city officials selected by the developer would sink the proposed town into debt to pay for resort-town infrastructure and then raise taxes on homeowners to erase the red ink. That notion - taxation without representation - makes the present law unconstitutional, Longhurst-Van Zeben contended.
Eden residents had hoped the Legislature would make HB164 retroactive - something House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, staunchly opposed, saying petitioners who followed the state law should not be punished.
If the Weber County Commission approves the Powder Mountain incorporation, Eden homeowners will go to court, said resident Jim Haley.
"We're going to wait and see what happens," he said. "If the commission approves it, we're ready to file an injunction."
Powder Mountain owner Western America Holdings applied for incorporation in January.
The developers said they filed the petition out of frustration with Weber County's reluctance to approve proposed luxury homes, golf courses, shops and hotels.
-- Kristen Moulton contributed to this report.