Thursday, February 22, 2007

An Open Letter to the County Council - Annexation

A letter (Email) sent to County Officials 2/15/2007
(No response from any official)

While I can understand and applaud your attempts to work with Heber City officials on the annexation of Red Ledges, I strongly urge you to continue with the protest of the annexation to the boundary commission, and beyond, if necessary.

  1. As is generally agreed by all interested in the issue, the primary (if not sole) reason for the annexation petition by the developer was DENSITY. The primary (if not the sole) reason for consideration of the petition by Heber City was money - in proposed taxes and fees. (see for the Aug 14 County City meeting recording) The city has NOT done any independent analysis of the fiscal impact figures presented by the developer as was promised by Heber City Manager (see podcast of interview with Mark Anderson at the above site labeled "city part I" and "city part II") Many of the figures are, in my opinion, suspect and overestimated in the developer's favor.
  2. The issue of density is apparently not being considered in the Interlocal agreement. At one time, the agreement even included a further density bonus of 5% for signing the agreement (68 more ERU's at $1.7 Million average or $100 million in increased revenues). The original allowed density was under 100 ERU's on the land - as purchased.
  3. The proposed mitigation fee of $4.5 Million is off by a factor of over 10, under the proposed Conservation/Open Space fee structure. This was discussed at the County Planning Commission and, I believe, part of the proposal that was working through the county process. (approx. 750 ERU increase in houses requested, times $600K average lot price, times 12.5% equals $56 Million) Why should this be now limited to $4.5 Million?
  4. It appears that the proposed Interlocal agreement solves very few, if any, of the legal issues raised by the proposed annexation. In particular, it does not consider these important factors:
  • The proposed annexation DOES create an unincorporated peninsula of Wasatch View Acres.
  • The Annexation Area was specifically changed recently, solely to accommodate this annexation.
  • Heber City will NOT be providing municipal services (sewer, water) to the development, possibly they might not even be able to. This is one the primary reasons for annexation, in general.
  • The annexation is being done primarily (if not solely) for taxes as has been noted in many meetings.

This project has little positive effect or benefit on the "health, safety and welfare" of the community as a whole. The Red Ledges developer basically lists three "benefits" on their website:

  • Money - taxes which may be overestimated and costs which may be underestimated.
    Public Facilities - of which there may be a few for the community, a private golf course not included.
  • Prestige - Wasatch County is already World Class as proven by all of those desiring to come and those desiring to stay.

I won't even mention the traffic issues, which have dominated the discussion so far.

In the final analysis, this project is mainly about one thing - profit for the developer. One of our County Officials wisely asked this rhetorical question: "Is it the government's responsibility to maximize the profit to someone that owns property or let them develop under guidelines that are socially compatible with the people that live here?"

The answer to that question, in my opinion, should be your guide to a decision to continue with the protest. To me the answer is clear; maximizing developer profit is not the responsibility of government; protecting the welfare and property rights of the community, as a whole, IS.
This is an opportune time to continue a discussion between all of the entities in the Heber Valley to work, in conjunction, to implement the various General Plans and attempt to retain the rural, small town environment that is cherished by the residents. I strongly urge you to do the right thing for the residents of your community - continue with the protest of the annexation to the boundary commission, and beyond, if necessary.

I'd be happy to discuss this further with anyone or provide whatever amplifying information I can.

No comments: