SALT LAKE CITY — State officials won’t wade into the question of whether West Haven or Plain City may annex portions of the proposed city in western Weber County before a vote on the incorporation proposal.
Talk of annexation has sparked concern from some promoting the vote next November, which will ask voters whether the vast area west of Plain City, Marriott-Slaterville and West Haven should be turned into a new city. Since the incorporation proposal emerged, officials in West Haven and Plain City have discussed the notion of annexing into the area ahead of the vote, cutting into the boundaries of the planned city.
In a letter last week, though, the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office said it won’t weigh in on the issue in part because neither Plain City nor West Haven have apparently received any formal annexation requests, despite any concerns.
“It would be premature for the lieutenant governor’s office to make a determination on this legal issue until an annexation is submitted for certification,” said the Jan. 6 letter, from Derek Brenchley, deputy director of elections in the lieutenant governor’s office.
Moreover, the letter noted that foes of annexation petitions, should they be submitted, would have the chance to protest them. “Sponsors and/or residents must use this existing administrative remedy, if possible, before seeking a remedy from the lieutenant governor’s office,” Brenchley wrote.
The incorporation talk dates at least to early last year. Those behind the ballot effort argue that creating a city — preliminarily named West Weber — would give locals more control over future development in the area, home to an increasing number of housing subdivisions as the area grows and grows. The area is now governed by Weber County commissioners, but ballot proponents successfully petitioned to put the incorporation question on the ballot and voters will decide the issue in the Nov. 3 election.
Some critics of incorporation say staying unincorporated or being folded into adjacent Plain City or West Haven, with established histories as cities, would be better options. In fact, leaders from both West Haven and Plain City have received inquiries from people living on the fringes of the cities about being annexed. West Haven officials held a public meeting on the issue last month.
Duncan Murray, involved in efforts that led to the ballot question, sought the opinion from the lieutenant governor’s office on the annexation question. Murray argues that the incorporation initiative should take precedence over annexation until the Nov. 3 vote, forestalling expansion by West Haven or Plain City until at least after the vote is determined.
Lance Peterson, also involved in seeking the ballot question, sees the decision not to weigh in on the annexation question as an opening to prod debate on the ballot question and, more generally, the future of the area.
“Basically it gives us the green light to get the debate and discussion going. We want to get everyone involved in this,” he said.
The 57-square-mile area would become the biggest city geographically in Weber County if the incorporation vote succeeds. It’s home to around 4,700 people.