It's been an unusual year in Alta and it's not nearly over.
A recent 3rd District Court ruling stripped Steven "Piney" Gilman of his Town Council seat and now a property owner has filed a legal notice with Alta town claiming that Mayor Tom Pollard and Councilman Paul Moxley may be in the same boat.
Some in the tiny community that abuts the legendary ski resort believe a power play is in the works aimed at bringing new construction to the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Gilman has not decided whether to appeal theFeb. 15 ruling that found he was a resident of Cottonwood Heights and, therefore, ineligible to vote in Alta or hold office there.
Alta resident Guy Jordan filed a challenge against Gilman with Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen. When Swensen ruled in Gilman's favor, Jordan appealed to 3rd District Court.
In the wake of the court ruling against Gilman, Mark Haik, who owns four platted lots within Alta's municipal boundary, filed a claim with Alta under Utah's government liability act that calls into question the legality of Pollard and Moxley to sit on the Town Council.
Both men have Salt Lake Valley residences.
But Pollard also works in Alta at Rustler Lodge, which is listed with the Salt Lake County Clerk as his legal residence. And Moxley owns a condominium in Alta that is listed as his legal residence.
When contacted, Pollard declined to comment; Moxley said he is a longtime resident of Alta.
Although he filed his claim with the town, Haik has not challenged either man's eligibility with the Salt Lake County Clerk, as is the norm for questioning eligibility.
Paul Haik, a lawyer who represents his brother, Mark Haik, explained Wednesday that based on the ruling in Gilman's case, Alta officials should realize that three of the five members of the Town Council may be serving outside the law and therefore "may be harming our interests."
The claim, among other things, serves to warn Town Clerk Kate Black that she should not accept declarations of candidacy for the two men prior to the November election, Paul Haik said. Pollard's and Moxley's terms expire in January.
Black declined comment, saying the town's attorneys are reviewing the claim.
In 2012, Haik filed suit in federal court against Salt Lake City and Alta over water: "Salt Lake City Corporation and the Town of Alta combined to accomplish the objective of using denial of water as a means of controlling development within Albion Basin Subdivision," the still-pending suit states.
Lou Moore, who owns and operates the Alta Java coffee shop, said it's no coincidence that Haik is challenging Pollard and Moxley. A shift in power on the Alta Town Council could aid Haik in his battle to build on his Alta land, Moore said.
"It doesn't take rocket science to know what's going on," he said. "It's what we said before: If Piney loses, they're going to challenge all the voters in Alta."
But Paul Haik said the two actions are not necessarily connected. "I disagree with that characterization," he said.