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GREEN RIVER MAY ANNEX PIECE OF GRAND

This town is split by a river and a county border.

But now Green River officials on the west side, Emery County, are making strong arguments for annexing the part of the community on the east side, in Grand County."The main reason is they've taken property tax out of here for years," said Green River Mayor Judy Ann Scott. "And they cannot have a voice in the city government, yet our decisions impact them."

Scott said her town of 900 residents and Emery County provide services to the 200 Grand County residents on the east side of the river. But Emery County gets none of their property taxes.

An annexation to be proposed on the November ballot would encompass 6,800 acres, pushing Green River's borders almost as big as Salt Lake's.

Grand County, Scott said, has abandoned its part of Green River to cater instead to the international crowds who flock to Moab and its nearby national parks.

Green River residents prefer steadier, more diverse industrial development with a few tourist amenities, she said.

But Grand County officials and some of those who live in what once was known as Elgin are not keen on the idea.

They accuse Green River and Emery County officials of trying to snatch the $600,000 in taxes that tourists generate each year at the new motels, restaurants and gas stations that thrive on the east side of the river.

Grand County Council Chairman Bart Leavitt notes that Grand County promotes Green River tourism in all its pamphlets, it runs the John Wesley Powell Museum in the city, it contributed $100,000 for a golf course and it funds Green River's only medical clinic.

But he acknowledges a law enacted by the 1996 Legislature gives the rival county the power to annex another county's portion of a community when it's split by a river, as Green River is.

"We pretty much woke up to the fact that we can't stop Green River city from annexing into Emery County but we don't want them to take more of our county with them," Leavitt said.

Vera Hastings has lived with her husband, Tom, for 46 years on an 32-acre farm on the east side of the river. She believes annexation would ruin their placid lifestyle.

She rejects Green River's plan for light industry, mining and tract homes that would replace the riverside willows and the stately cottonwood trees.