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3 CITIES TO RENEW ANNEXATION EFFORTS

SHARE 3 CITIES TO RENEW ANNEXATION EFFORTS

As the hopes for proponents of eight townships were shattered Tuesday night, at least three Salt Lake County cities stood ready to pick up the pieces through new annexation efforts, with an eye on the elusive dream of wall-to-wall cities across the valley.

South Salt Lake, Murray and Midvale officials said their cities are still very much interested in gluing together the shards left over from the busted Holladay township effort.South Salt Lake Mayor Randy Fitts, who led the Conference of Salt Lake Valley Mayors' successful state Supreme Court challenge of the township law, said his city would continue efforts to explore annexing a large portion of Millcreek that would have been in Holladay Township. That area encompasses the zone south of the city from the Jordan River to 700 East and 3300 to 3900 South.

The initiative to form Holladay and seven other townships failed Tuesday when proponents could not muster support from the required majority of registered voters in the areas.

Two weeks ago, the South Salt Lake Council failed in an attempt to pass a resolution supporting Millcreek residents who want to begin a petition drive to incorporate into South Salt Lake. That effort crashed against the rocks of protest when Councilman Wes Losser complained that the city would never be able to afford the costs associated with annexation.

Murray is moving more tentatively toward expanding its northern border, which follows meandering Big Cottonwood Creek from roughly 4700 to 4100 South, to meet South Salt Lake at 3900 South. The western border of greater Murray would be the Jordan River; on the east would be 900 East.

Shannon Smith, the Murray City Council's executive director, said council members and city staff have held informal discussions on the annexation matter, and Smith said she has also spoken with Fitts. The major difficulty for Murray is the Murray School District question.

Because the Murray School District is contained within the same boundaries as the city, Murray would have to bring the school district on board in any attempts to annex a new area. An enlargement of city boundaries would mean an increase in the school district's responsibilities and expenses.

Smith said city officials will meet with school district officials Dec. 11 to discuss possible annexation moves.

Annexation attempts would also have to be supported by 51 percent of the property owners within the proposed annexation area. Smith said Murray has no plans to take anyone into to its boundaries who doesn't want to be there.

"I don't know where people get that idea that cities have the ability to go out and grab up unincorporated areas," she said. "Murray has never had the philosophy that we want to go out and grab land."

Fitts said South Salt Lake would drop the issue if the Millcreek community shows no support. However, there is no denying that South Salt Lake has shown interest in the area for many years - although previous annexation attempts have foundered.

The downfall of the township vote also gives the green light to Midvale to go full-steam ahead with the annexation of the Union unincorporated area.