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Willow Creek will remain a single community for the "Community Preservation" election in November, with residents facing a choice of remaining unincorporated or annexing into Sandy City.

Millcreek residents will have Suicide Rock and the western trailhead to Grandeur Peak within their township boundary, but Mill Creek Canyon will not be included.

Magna and Copperton townships will remain smaller than they have been, but Kennecott has agreed to restore land to those communities so they can retain their hold over some things important to them, such as cemeteries.

The Salt Lake County Council settled on those key decisions Tuesday in a public hearing that lasted 3½ hours and featured more than 50 speakers.

Decisions were necessary to provide time for the county to prepare the language and maps that will appear on ballots Nov. 3 when residents from each of the six townships and 46 islands in the unincorporated area vote to determine their future governance.

The Willow Creek decision was the most contentious because that southeastern community is sandwiched between Sandy and Cottonwood Heights, both of which have expressed interest in absorbing Willow Creek into their boundaries.

At Tuesday's hearing, no one from Willow Creek spoke in favor of joining Cottonwood Heights. More people preferred Sandy, but only as a distant second choice to staying unincorporated.

"I have been to 288 homes in my neighborhood. There is no annexation fever in the island," said David Green.

Added Cindy Deckart: "We appreciate the dilemma you [council members] are in. It's just so hard to choose between the two sharks. They've been biting off succulent parts of us for years. Choosing between one or the other is like choosing between the frying pan and the fire."

The Millcreek Township discussion was not as emotional, but many residents of that east-central valley community were eager to include Mill Creek Canyon within the township boundary. They maintained they could do the best job of ensuring its protection because they live at the bottom of it.

County Mayor Ben McAdams, who pushed the Community Preservation Act through the Legislature, disagreed and said it would be better to include Mill Creek Canyon with the other central Wasatch Front canyons (between Parleys and Little Cottonwood) in a mountain planning district being created by the county.

Councilman Michael Jensen had supported arguments by proponents of keeping the canyon in the township, but his motion was defeated.

On the valley's west side, McAdams and Jensen, a Magna resident, succeeded over the past three weeks in convincing Kennecott to allow some of its land to remain in the Magna and Copperton townships.

In Magna, the cemetery will be restored to the township, as will Saltair and the Great Salt Lake marina. But the Magna Gun Club will not because Kennecott has plans for that land as part of a future west-bench development, Jensen said.

Kennecott also made some allowances in Copperton, where the earlier removal of its property had trimmed the township's boundaries by roughly 95 percent, reducing Copperton to its developed residential area.

In response to county entreaties, however, the boundary was broadened to take in the old Bingham High School and its playing fields, the community cemetery and the road heading east out of Copperton.

While better than before, the slightly larger boundary did not satisfy Copperton community leaders. "You said you'd protect our boundaries," said town councilman Russell Ray. "Preservation? You decimated us. ... How about standing up for us?"

Jensen responded that council members also were disappointed, and pledged that "as long as I have influence, I will do all I can to hold [Kennecott] to their commitment" to annex into Copperton when mining ceases and the company looks to develop its land.

The county soon will issue a contract for financial reviews of the options facing residents in each township and unincorporated island. A series of town hall meetings will be held in September.