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STATE CHIPS AWAY AT CHILL FROM LANDOWNERS NEAR HILL

SHARE STATE CHIPS AWAY AT CHILL FROM LANDOWNERS NEAR HILL

For years, Harry Peek fought off requests by utility companies to run sewer and power lines through the land his family owns near Hill Air Force Base.

But when the state came calling with a condemnation lawsuit last year to restrict his building rights, Peek finally surrendered."It was rough," said Peek, 78, of South Weber. "I just got sick and tired of them."

Peek retains ownership of his land and will keep the three homes already there. But he cannot develop his land or build any more homes, apartments or schools on it.

He is one of 60 property owners the state has sued in the past year to stop residential building around Hill in an effort to ensure the future of one of the area's largest employers.

The number of owners who have been sued is double the 24 to 30 base neighbors state officials initially predicted would end up in court.

Still, Joe Jenkins, executive director of the state's Department of Community and Economic Development, believes the final cost of all property easements sought will be under the $10 million allocated by legislators in 1994.

The state authorized the department to buy the easements on roughly 800 acres of property at Hill's north and south borders. The easements are sought from 207 property owners - most of them in Davis County.

Encroachment by residential building around a military base is considered a factor in judging its long-term viability. Legislators were concerned too much encroachment would harm Hill's future.

So far, the department has secured 122 easements and has agreed on the price of 20 more, said Earl Maeser, the department's contracts manager.