Thursday, December 22, 2005

Breaking Away

Stories in the DesNews and Trib yesterday morning about the last-ditch attempt by Mayor Mortimer in Bluffdale to rezone the disputed large tracts of land before he leaves office, in an effort to "save" the area and keep it in Bluffdale.

This area was also subject to an attempted referendum vote by citizens who do not want density to change much from the predominant 1 unit per acre in most of the rest of the community. Winners in last month's municipal elections were those who were supporting the referendum, making the referendum moot.

The controversy also has an interesting twist to it, as the property owners have petitioned district court to have the land removed from Bluffdale City. The mayor and city staff negotiated a compromise with the owners, and attempted to have it accepted by the court as a settlement agreement, but the judge would have none of it, saying it would have set him up as the ulitmate zoning authority for the city, which he did not see as his role.

Whether you agree with the citizens in this issue or with the mayor, the whole thing still begs the question -- if a property owners doesn't like what the city has in its general plan for their land, should they have the right to shop around for a jurisdiction that will give them more of what they want? What does such an approach do to the integrity of plans developed by communities?

Obviously, not every property owner would be able to do so. Those who are not located on the edges of a city cannot easily disconnect and move to another jurisdiction. But there are still plenty that could do so, if they don't think the city's plan gives them enough future value for their property.

It will be interesting to see how the judge rules on the disconnection petition in the Bluffdale case. It could have some far-reaching implications.

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