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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Weber County responds to Powder Mountain Legal action

From Today's Standard Examiner: D. Lewis Reporter

OGDEN — Granting developers the right to create a town without input and then select town government without oversight is “tantamount to monarchy.”
At least that’s what the Weber County Attorney’s Office says.
In a response filed Tuesday to Aug. 26 litigation from Powder Mountain developers, the Weber County Commission acknowledges it was required by law to appoint a mayor and town council for Powder Mountain after the resort incorporated as a town on Aug. 5.
The argument now, however, is who gets to choose names on the list from which the appointments will be made.
Commissioners argue the law requires them to appoint “from a list of qualified individuals approved by the petition sponsors,” not from “the list” submitted by the town’s founders.
Tuesday’s response is the latest in the clash over Powder Mountain. The resort incorporated under a 2007 state law that allowed Powder Mountain to become a town without input from the county or residents of the affected area.
The commission approved incorporation, but refused to approve the developers’ list of six people submitted for town government.
The commissioners then worked with developers to create a larger list of 19 names, but once again declined to approve the list on Aug. 19 after they were presented with a shorter 11-person list.
While the commission states it was ready and willing to approve the town government, it felt the developers’ lists did not give commissioners room to exercise their duties to represent the people who would be part of the new town.
The petitioners — developers Mark Arnold, Edward Bates and Lee Daniels — contend the commission is required to appoint from whatever list they submit as long as the applicants are qualified, legally defined as registered voters having lived in the area making up the town for a year or more.
In response, the commission asserts this stance violates the Utah Constitution by delegating authority to control municipal functions to a private group.
Article VI Section 28 of the Constitution states, “The Legislature shall not delegate to any special commission, private corporation or association any power to … perform any municipal functions.”
The response also argues the selection of the town government is critical to the success and well-being of the town, especially because it was formed without outside input.
The response adds that, if the Legislature had intended for the commission to approve any qualified list from the petitioners, the law would have been worded differently.
The commissioners said they are supposed to protect the health, safety and welfare of county residents and attempted to do so by seeking input from both residents and the petition sponsors of Powder Mountain.
However, they feel they cannot fulfill their duties if forced to approve only the developers’ list.
Mellissa Cameron, spokeswoman for the developers, said Tuesday evening their attorneys had not yet seen the county’s response and she could not comment on it.

UPDATE: Be sure to read Rudi's post on the Weber County Forum regarding the County's response.

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