Western Weber incorporate meeting

Brad Blanch addresses a gathering at Kanesville Elementary in the Taylor area on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, on the proposal to incorporate western Weber County and turn it into a city. About 100 people attended.

TAYLOR — As talk continues of turning unincorporated western Weber County into a city, proponents say one of the next steps is coming up with a name for the proposed new locale.

That hardly means converting the wide open, 57-square-mile area into the county’s 16th incorporated community is a done deal. Three public meetings have been held on incorporation plans, most recently on Monday at Kanesville Elementary and Reese Park, and another is set for Oct. 15. But proponents have scheduled two additional meetings for November, and coming up with a name will be a key focus of those gatherings.

The four areas in the zone that would become a city are Warren, West Warren, Taylor and West Weber, but combining all those names into one may not be feasible. “Obviously we can’t hyphenate four names,” said Duncan Murray, a lawyer who lives in the area and is assisting with the citizen-led initiative.

Weber County incorporate map

This map from a study commissioned by the Utah Lieutenant Governor's Office shows the area, in tan, of a proposed new city covering what are now  unincorporated portions of western Weber County. Some in the growing area have pushed the idea of turning the area into a city, and the study into the proposal will be the focus of a series of public meetings through November 2019.

A flier put together by proponents of the process asks for ideas from the public.

The name of the proposed locale “could be ‘Western Weber Community,’ ‘Fremont Community’ or any other name proposed by residents at the two meetings,” it reads. “Bring your ideas for the community name to the meetings.”

Meantime, many still have questions. Judging by the demeanor at one of the meetings on the issue last Monday at Kanesville Elementary in the Taylor area, though, the debate hasn’t turned into a burning controversy. About 100 people were on hand.

One woman suggested that letting nearby West Haven annex the area, or part of the area, may be a better solution than forming a brand new city from the ground up. “Join something that’s already working,” she said.

Another man, though, expressed concern at the prospect of being folded into an existing city and potentially losing control of the area’s future development and unique characteristics. Some point with concern to the gradual expansion of West Haven into the unincorporated expanse of western Weber County, while he said Plain City further north is doing the same thing.

“The communities are rapidly swallowing up the county. If we don’t (incorporate) today, we’re going to be swallowed up,” he said. The would-be city, home to around 4,700 people, is located in the expanse west of Plain City, Marriott-Slaterville and West Haven, currently a mix of ag land and new residential subdivisions managed largely by Weber County government.

Most of the people who spoke out at the Taylor meeting seemed less concerned with the prospect of becoming a city and more curious about particulars like the road and other expenses the new city, if formed, would face.

Indeed, Murray said he detected more skepticism toward incorporation at a Sept. 30 meeting in the West Weber area.

Still, he said, underlying their comments seemed to be some of the same goals of those petitioning to become a city — protecting the rural feel of the zone and giving locals more control over the pace and nature of future development. Fending off incorporation by existing cities has been another motivating factor.

“They just disagree on the method that best accomplishes that result,” Murray said.

ON THE BALLOT NEXT JUNE?

Proponents for incorporation successfully petitioned earlier this year for a study into the possibility, per the process outlined in state law. Zion’s Public Finance, commissioned by the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office, carried out the study, and the findings have been the focus of the ongoing meetings, including the Taylor gathering.

Among many other things, Zion’s bank determined that turning the zone into a city would cost the average homeowner in the area an extra $50 or so per year in property taxes. That new property tax revenue would supplement other revenue streams now managed largely through Weber County that would become the new city’s, enabling it to cover anticipated expenses.

Next in the process would be another petition drive to get a question put to voters in the area, probably on the primary ballot on June 30, 2020. The main question for voters would be whether they favor becoming a new city. Two other ballot questions would accompany that — what sort of government format should the new city adopt, if formed, and whether city council members should be elected to at-large posts or from geographic districts. Murray emphasizes the flexibility in structuring the format of the new city, should the process proceed.

Murray suspects proponents of the process will be able to muster the needed signatures to get on the ballot. They can transfer signatures used on the initial petition drive seeking the study to the new one, he said.

First though, comes the Oct. 15 meeting on the Zion’s Public Finance study, to be held at Warren Park, 1400 N. 5900 West starting at 6 p.m.

Then come the newly scheduled meetings, on Nov. 4 at West Weber Elementary at 4178 W. 900 South and Nov. 18 at Kanesville Elementary at 3112 S. 3500 West. Both those meetings go from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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