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House Speaker Greg Curtis earlier this month told the Wasatch County attorney: Don't drag your feet on deciding whether to approve the incorporation of a new town on the east bank of the Jordanelle Reservoir.
Then, Curtis warned lawmakers that he would thwart amending state law dealing with incorporations until the county resolves the issue involving the town - which would be called Hideout.
That controversial law, passed last year at the behest of the Hideout developer, set the stage for a modern-day land war in and around Heber Valley. It has spawned three such proposals there: Other developers also want to create towns called Independence and Aspen.
"If we did something stupid [last year], it's unfortunate," Curtis said. "But people have relied on what we've done."
Under the law, developers who own 50 percent of the land can draw lines on a map and create a town. The proposed municipality must include at least 100 residents. The mayor and city council would be appointed for the first two years from a list supplied by the developer.
Curtis, who said he has no financial connection to Hideout or any other proposed municipality, said he is not averse to amending the law.
But he wants the petitioners who already have filed to have a shot before new legislation potentially changes the rules.
"That really isn't fair," he said.
Rep. Melvin Brown, R-Coalville, sponsored the 2007 law. But last week, saying it is badly flawed, he introduced a new bill, HB164, that would invalidate petitions not yet approved. That would kill Hideout and Independence.
Wasatch County denied Aspen's petition because it conflicts with a pending annexation proposal in the town of Daniel.
The Wasatch County Council has set a Feb. 6 vote on Hideout. The vote could remove Curtis' threat and clear the way for Brown's bill to move forward.
But Hideout would not be a slam dunk. The owner of the Todd Hollow Apartments may object.
If Martin Elliott withdraws his 184 units from Hideout, the petition, filed by Mustang Development, would fall way short of the required 100 residents.
"I'm looking for some assurance this [creation of the town] is to our benefit," Elliott said.
Wasatch County is not delaying the incorporation process for Hideout or others, according to Low, the county attorney. His Jan. 15 meeting with Curtis included Hideout lobbyists Frank Pignanelli and Lincoln Schurtz, but none from Independence or Aspen.
"It's clear the meeting was about Hideout, although [Curtis] asked what other incorporations were out there," Low said. "I have to admit, he was fairly scrupulous in that he wasn't pressing us to do one thing or another."
Utah law allows developers to create a municipality - as long as the area has at least 100 residents. HB164 would change that law by:
* Requiring five sponsors, rather than just one.
* Prohibiting those five as a group from owning more than 40 percent of the land.
* Certifying that a majority of qualified voters approve.
* Requiring that the mayor and city council be elected.