Boundary bill moves forward, wording unclear
A bill to resolve Salt Lake County's perpetual boundary battles is headed to the Senate floor but its wording will differ from the version advanced Thursday by a Senate committee.
Senate Business and Labor Committee members, and even citizens opposed to the overall concept, accepted county Mayor Ben McAdams' pledge to revise SB216 to include provisions that could lessen resistance.
McAdams had asked the committee to move the bill forward, concerned that if it did not make it to the Senate by Friday, there might not be time to get it through the Legislature before the session ends March 13.
For starters, he promised to come up with language that assures that Millcreek incorporation petitions, formally submitted Friday to the county clerk's office, will not be invalidated by his proposal.
City supporters were afraid their petition drive would be undercut completely by the 1Â½-year moratorium placed on incorporations and annexations while a study analyzes the feasibility of uniting existing townships into a city with non-contiguous boundaries.
That time is necessary, McAdams said, "to have productive dialogue [without] threats of annexation that divert the conversation."
He does not believe the proposal will delay a vote on Millcreek City, saying it's unrealistic for incorporation backers to think the matter can make it onto this November's ballot.
It will take 300 days to go through all the steps to certify the election and get information out to voters, McAdams said, but only 190 days are left until Election Day. Even if county staff took short cuts, he added, there still isn't time to do the job adequately.
The next chance to vote would not be until the November 2016 general election.
Millcreek proponent MaryAnn Matheson Strong took issue with McAdams' position, citing several ways to accelerate the process so a vote could occur this year.
Strong wants to make sure the bill that emerges does not preclude that possibility or do anything else to undermine the citizens' initiative.
Another of the 15 speakers who addressed the Senate committee Thursday said the process should end up giving Millcreek residents a clear "either/or" choice: To vote for their own city on the county's east-central side, or for the mayor's proposed city, which would link Millcreek, Magna, Emigration Canyon, Kearns, White City and Copperton.
McAdams reiterated that his bill will not stand in the way of an ongoing effort to annex Olympus Hills subdivision (3900 South to 4500 South between 2700 East and eastside I-215) into Holladay.
Nor will it prevent annexations of unincorporated lands in Granite, which is not a township, into Sandy or Cottonwood Heights.
The Cottonwood Heights City Council formally accepted a petition Tuesday from the still-developing Granite Oaks subdivision, 38 lots on 80 acres straddling Wasatch Boulevard about 9300 South.
When SB216 is introduced in the Senate, McAdams said it will be held until compromise language is worked out.
Leaders of the effort to annex Olympus Hills subdivision into Holladay have challenged Salt Lake County's protest against the proposal, which extended the process by requiring a feasibility study on the overall impacts of the move.
"Quit wasting precious taxpayer funds on needless studies," annexation-effort chairman John Bradshaw said in a letter to the county.