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All of Big Cottonwood Canyon should be annexed into the new canyon sewer district, the county attorney's office has told the Salt Lake County Commission.

The annexation would be part of a plan to resolve controversy over the sewer's costs, said Commissioner Jim Bradley. The commission will also consider whether to buy up the sewer's unused capacity, he said.The commission, which established the Solitude Improvement District, would have to approve the annexation, proposed by the improvement district's board of trustees.

Currently, only the Solitude Ski Area is included in the Solitude Improvement Area. But the sewer runs the length of the canyon, and all cabin owners within 300 feet of the line are required to tie into the system.

Many cabin owners have protested that the proposed sewer fees are too high and have complained that because their homes are not within the sewer district boundaries, they have no representation on the district's board of trustees.

The sewer district board is composed of people affiliated with the Solitude Ski Area. Annexing all of the canyon into the sewer district would mean cabin owners would be eligible to sit on the board.

Bradley said annexation is important, but the "heart of the matter" is the sewer's unused capacity.

The sewer is about twice as big as it needs to be to take care of the needs of the canyon's current residents, resorts and businesses. The commissioner has proposed that the county buy the unused capacity and sell it later - probably at a much higher cost.

That, Bradley says, could lower the hookup costs by offering an incentive for owners of undeveloped land to buy in now.

Cabin owners are being told they will have to pay a $250 connection fee to hook up to the sewer, plus a $45-per-month service fee for the next 17 years. Added to those expenses would be any new plumbing necessary to bring the homes, most of which are not used year-round, into code compliance.

Bradley said the canyon's master plan will dictate just how much of the unused capacity would actually ever be developable. The county would not want to purchase unused capacity that is also undevelopable, he said.