The historic residential heart of Taylorsville may be grafted into Murray City - if a proposed annexation can overcome three complications.
The same chunk of land proposed for annexation is included in a petition to incorporate Taylorsville-Bennion. Second, some residents of the area don't want to relinquish their historical roots by becoming part of Murray.And at least one Murray official isn't wild about taking in the new territory.
The annexation faces its first major hurdle Tuesday when the Murray City Council holds a public hearing on the proposal at Hillcrest Junior High School, 126 E. 5300 South. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.
The 378.4 acres in the tangle is bounded by Canal Street on the west, Murray-Taylorsville Road (4800 South) on the north, the Jordan River on the east and 5400 South on the south. There are approximately 679 residential dwellings in the area, mostly single-family homes. About 1,900 people live there. There is enough vacant land in the area to accommodate nearly twice that many residences.
Residents of the area began working nearly two years ago to join Murray, said Steve Domino. Murray's school system is better, its taxes are lower and its form of government is more responsive than the county, Domino said.
"We recognize Murray City as being a very desirable community," Domino said.
Murray received annexation petitions last spring and summer; the city determined it had verified signatures of more than 50 percent of residents of the area on Oct. 11, said Murray City Attorney Craig Hall.
The move to incorporate Taylorsville-Bennion gathered momentum about the same time. The timing of the two movements is key, because by law the first petition to be officially validated takes precedence over other petitions. Salt Lake County Deputy Attorney Kent Lewis said the county received the incorporation petition Sept. 29 and certified them Nov. 10.
The county is now reviewing the annexation petition to verify when it was filed and that it includes an adequate number of valid signatures at that time.
Murray City Council Chairman Lynn H. Turner believes the annexation request came forward first. Turner sent the Salt Lake County Commission a letter last week asking the county to exclude the area from a feasibility study for the proposed city.
Lewis said the county is waiting to see if Murray officials decide to go forward with the annexation at next Tuesday's public hearing.
"If Murray doesn't go forward, it would all be moot," Lewis said.
If the city opts to go forward with the annexation, the county will have to determine which petition came first.
"The county could protest the annexation boundary if it determined that the petition for Taylorsville-Bennion preceded the petitions for the annexation," Lewis said.
Domino said that most of the people who've signed the annexation petition would rather join Murray than be part of a new city.
"I would venture to say that most of the people who are in favor of the annexation into Murray would vote against the incorporation. We don't have a problem with those people who want to be in Taylorsville-Bennion going into Taylorsville-Bennion, but don't make us become a part of it," Domino said.
Bruce Wasden, chairman of the Taylorsville-Bennion Community Council, says no one wants to force the residents into the proposed city.
"We'd hate to see these people leave the area, but if they want to that's their choice," Wasden said. "If it were to come push to shove we would return to the legal definition of first in is first considered. But if they actually choose to go that way, then so be it."
Wasden said, however, he's heard from numerous residents of the area who've told him they don't want to leave Taylorsville-Bennion.
Turner is equally polite about doing whatever the residents want.
"We want to do what's best for people and what they want us to do," Turner said. "We don't want to force them into Murray. All we're doing is acting on a request from the people that live over there."
But Murray Council member Fred Jones sees some problems with the annexation.
Jones said that while it would be a nice addition to the city, it will tax the city's resources. Murray is not able to provide water and sewer services to the area and would have to spend substantial sums to provide power and to bring streets up to its standards.
The city also would have to hire additional employees in the police and streets departments to serve the new area. But the biggest concern may be the impact the annexation would have on the Murray School District.
The district would have to add portable classrooms and two to three additional school buses to handle the 418 school-age children in the area. Most of the children would have to be bused to schools across town, since the school closest to their neighborhoods are full.
"They were led to believe they would attend the Murray school program, but I'm not sure they realize they'd have to be bused to schools clear across Murray," Jones said.
"As far as the area fitting with Murray and its lifestyle, it does, but the question is whether the citizens of Murray are willing to pay the price to annex this area in," Jones said. "The property tax revenues isn't sufficient to cover all the cost of providing services. It never is."