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Highland residents who don't agree with the City Council's decision to allow businesses to operate on Sunday will have to petition for a referendum to overturn the city ordinance.
One resident said getting enough signatures for a referendum won't be a problem.
"It's a community value thing," said Rod Mann, who has lived in Highland for 10 years. "Part of the value is there is a day of rest on Sunday that everybody gets to benefit from."
In April, the Highland City Council voted 3-2 to amend a 12-year-old ordinance that prohibited any business from operating on Sunday. But the change hinged on one thing: Citizens had to approve it while voting in November.
That plan was upended when council members learned such opinion questions are nonbinding and, more importantly, are outside a city's purview, according to Scott Hogensen, Utah County chief deputy clerk auditor.
The language of the amended ordinance specifying a public vote on Sunday openings was "based on a mistaken interpretation" of a recently changed Utah law that allows nonbinding opinion questions on ballots only if they are of statewide significance and are approved by lawmakers, Hogensen said.
"The feeling of the council was that the change is something the citizens should voice their opinion on," said city administrator John Park. Turns out, "we were mistaken" that the issue could be put on the ballot, he said.
On Tuesday, the Highland council voted to remove the ballot provision from the ordinance. Again, the vote was 3-2 in favor with council members Tim Irwin, Tom Butler and Scott Smith in favor, and Brian Braithwaite and Jessie Schoenfeld voting nay.
"I believe that every community has a right…to establish laws in the community to represent the values that they have," Braithwaite said Wednesday, explaining his vote.
Irwin said Wednesday it was difficult to know what most residents want, which is why he voted yes on Tuesday. "I felt we needed to give residents a voice, and the only way we could do that was to pass it and see if the residents wanted to rescind it in November." He added that he would sign a referendum petition.
Mann recognizes the city's economic interest in having businesses open on Sunday. Indeed, the ordinance's language stated a desire "to promote economic development and increase sale tax revenues." But he said he would rather "have my property tax raised" in order to preserve the day of rest.
"It's quiet on Sunday. I enjoy that."