The County Commission's mad dash to make Dimple Dell Regional Park part of Sandy has slowed to a walk.
After days of criticism and a heated commission meeting on Monday that nearly ended with a woman being ejected, Brent Overson has agreed to let a proposal to add the park to Sandy sift through several boards and a public hearing during the next 30 days. It will then be forwarded to Sandy for action.Still murky is whether the county followed procedure last week when it approved and forwarded a petition asking Sandy to annex the 643-acre park without an accurate plat or map of the park.
State law requires that an accurate plat or map be included when an annexation petition is filed with a city recorder. But County Commission Chairman Overson admitted Monday the county is still working on a description of the area to be annexed.
He told the Deseret News the county is "not required to have a legal description to make it a valid petition."
Representatives of the White City Community Council, who fear the annexation will give Sandy control over development of the area's water system, disagree.
But it's also unclear whether the petition is valid without the White City Water Improvement District's support.
State law requires annexation petitions to be signed by 51 percent of the property owners affected. The petition submitted to Sandy bore only two signatures: Overson's, who signed on behalf of the county, and Sandy Canal Co., which apparently doesn't own land in the park.
The White City Water Improvement District, on the other hand, owns property in the park. The petition is invalid without the district's support, according to Pauline Flint, vice chairwoman of the White City Community Council and head of the White City Water Improvement District. Flint is also a member of the Dimple Dell Advisory Board.
She nearly got thrown out of Monday's commission meeting while listing a litany of problems with the county's proposal.
The county attorney's office is researching whether White City Water should have a say in the annexation.
Flint also questions the timing of the annexation, saying "water and annexation of this park have been tied at the hip."
About two weeks ago, water district officials discussed with Overson their interest in building a water-storage tank on county property at the east end of the park. The sudden rush to annex the park into Sandy, which would give it control over land use issues, is more than coincidental, according to Flint.
But Overson, Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan and Commissioner Randy Horiuchi all say water has nothing to do with the annexation of Dimple Dell Park.
"We talked about the annexation of Dimple Dell Park long before the water company formed," Horiuchi said.
From Dolan: "This process was going on long before anyone mentioned that White City would have a tank in Dimple Dell Park." However, he also said it is unlikely Sandy would support commercial development, including a water tank, in the park's pristine environment.
"I will not request any kind of facility be built in a natural area, whether it's White City or any other entity," Dolan said. "I would oppose any development in the park. I also want control of development around the park. That's what we can add to the equation."
The commission voted April 17 to ask Sandy to annex the park. While the county would continue to own and operate Dimple Dell, Sandy would take over planning and zoning authority for the park.
The county gains a partner to help it pay for improvements to the park, such as a planned $1.5 million Nature Center. Sandy gets a say over what happens in the urban natural park that runs through the heart of the city.
But Overson and Dolan apparently forgot to clue in a few other people about the idea - namely the Dimple Dell Advisory Board, which oversees the park, the Granite Community Council and the White City Community Council. Both community council areas include parts of the park.
Tod Young, chairman of the Granite council, asked the county Monday to withdraw the petition since it is contrary to the Granite Community master plan, which specifically opposes annexations by Sandy. Young also called for Overson to resign because he "violated our trust."
Also chagrined about not being apprised of the proposed annexation are members of the Dimple Dell Advisory Board. With the exception of Sandy Councilwoman Judy Bell, none of the 13 other board members had an inkling what was up until they learned about the annexation from news media.
Overson says that's a misunderstanding; he thought at least one other board member, chairman John Shakula, knew about the county's plans.
"I'm still in the learning process, I make mistakes," Overson said. "I thought they knew about it. It's apparent not everybody knew. I just hope the people will be understanding of us as well."
Shakula said he had a brief, "conceptual" talk with Dolan and Bell about the idea three or four months ago and then heard nothing more - until last week. In that brief conversation, Shakula said, he made it clear that he would not support the county relinquishing planning responsibility for the park.
"Certainly Commissioner Overson and I have never talked about it, nor had the issue ever come up at a Dimple Dell Park board meeting," Shakula said.
Shakula said the board does not oppose the annexation but wants Sandy to adopt the park's master plan as part of taking in the area.