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S.L. COUNTY WINS ROUND IN BID TO BUILD JAIL

SHARE S.L. COUNTY WINS ROUND IN BID TO BUILD JAIL

An attempt to keep Salt Lake County from building a minimum-security jail on property it owns in South Salt Lake was overturned by a 3rd District judge Wednesday.

Salt Lake County filed suit against South Salt Lake after the City Council said the county couldn't build a jail on county-owned property, known as the Oxbow site, near 3300 South and the Jordan River.The council had earlier said the county could build the new facility there. The county filed suit after the council changed its mind.

Homeowners living near the Oxbow jail site were upset by the decision, fulfilling one of two prognostications by Judge Michael Murphy, who heard the case and then issued his order favoring the county Wednesday morning. "I don't expect my decision to be a very popular one," he said in a courtroom lined with South Salt Lake residents.

Murphy also included wording in his order that anticipates an appeal. He recommended the state Supreme Court retain any appeal instead of transferring it to the appeals court. This would expedite a final decision, he said.

South Salt Lake Mayor Jim Davis said it will be up to the City Council to decide whether the city will pursue an appeal. The item will be on Wednesday evening's City Council agenda, he said.

Homeowners near the Oxbow site said they will push the city to appeal the ruling, and might appeal the case on their own if the city doesn't appeal.

"We're sick. We want to go home and bawl," said Emma Fox, 3177 S. 1100 West, whose home is directly east of the 17.5 acres of the Oxbow site. The county offered to buy their property, said her husband, Edward, but it only offered $28,000 while they believe the house and property are worth more than double that.

Salt Lake County Attorney David Yocom said he is sympathetic with the property owners' position, "But I don't think they have a position to take action at this point."