When Ray Goodson’s house flooded a few years back, he watched Sandy City officials help his neighbors clean the water damage to their homes for free, while he had to pay $20,000 in repairs out of his own pocket.
Goodson, who lived in an unincorporated area of Salt Lake County bordering Sandy, asked county officials for help covering the bill. But he said they denied his requests.
"I thought I had passed gas or something," he said. "All they did was laugh hysterically."
Other residents told similar stories to the City Council on Tuesday, when about 40 people attended a public hearing on a proposal to annex part of the unincorporated county into Sandy. Most, like Goodson, favored the proposal.
After public comment, council members voted unanimously for the annexation, adding 127 parcels, or 45.1 acres, to the city around 8857 S. Oak Valley Drive. The land is contiguous to Sandy on the south, east and west sides.
James Sorensen, Sandy’s assistant community development director, said 61.4 percent of the landowners in the Oak Valley area consented to the annexation as of Tuesday night. The consent rate was 75 percent five days earlier.
The annexed area, mostly single family homes, will be rezoned for minimum 10,000-square-foot lots. The area also will receive Sandy City services, like police coverage and waste management.
Wayne Peay was not happy with the decision. His house is on the corner of the annexation zone, so he has seen both Sandy and Salt Lake County deliver services in the winter. He said the county plows the streets by his house earlier and better than the city clears nearby neighborhoods.
"I don’t see a compelling need to change the status of our neighborhood," he said. "I’m very content staying in the county."
Clint Cannon, leader of the annexation initiative, said fighting between neighbors over the issue has been "nasty." Out of curiosity, he began talk of annexation after SB216 was introduced in the most recent session of the Legislature. But he didn’t expect such negative reactions.
Passed in March, the bill stopped annexations of unincorporated land in the townships — Kearns, Magna, Copperton, White City, Millcreek and Emigration Canyon — until November 2015 while a committee tries to set up a municipal service district that will minimize annexation concerns.
But those frozen-boundary protections do not apply to scattered parcels of unincorporated land in the southeast valley that is not part of a township, including this neighborhood.
Annexation advocate Cannon has lived on Oak Valley Drive for 23 years and just wants the feud to be over.
"There’s been plenty of time for this to happen," Cannon said. "It’s [now] time to end it."
A larger portion of the neighborhood was considered for annexation to Cottonwood Heights in February 2010, but that effort failed.
Kim Powell, a member of the Willow Creek Community Council that represents this neighborhood in dealings with the county, feels Sandy’s annexation should fail, too.
The statute is "nebulous, vague and poorly interpreted," he said, accusing the city of pushing the annexation forward with exaggerated claims of local support.
Sandy Councilman Dennis Tenney said the accusation gives him "heartburn. … I can assure you," he added, "the city has followed very carefully and very legally and very legitimately due process."
The legality of the process is not the only concern to opponents. Those in the shrinking unincorporated area face higher taxes with each annexation, which leaves behind a smaller tax base to pay for service delivery.
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