Mutton Hollow residents who petitioned back in June to form a township under the new state law got an ordinance and election date Wednesday from the Davis County Commission.
Under pressure from a room full of township organizers, the commission Monday first set the election for Oct. 8, then moved it up two weeks to Sept. 25.At Wednesday's meeting, after adopting the township ordinance drawn up in two days by Deputy County Attorney Jerry Hess, the commission also advanced the election date again, setting it for Sept. 24.
The final date, a Tuesday, was requested by County Clerk Margene Isom, saying Tuesday elections are traditional and may boost voter turnout.
Residents of the area, which includes about 75 homes between Kaysville and Layton in a semirural area west of U.S. 89, pressured the commission to set an early date because they fear losing part of their area to annexation.
A state-imposed moratorium on annexations passed as part of the new state township statute expires Monday. A long-pending annexation bid by a developer, which spurred the township petition, could be revived then, several residents told the commission.
After Wednesday's passage, the ordinance has to be advertised before it takes effect and the election has to be advertised under state law, making the Sept. 24 date the earliest it can be held, Isom said Monday.
Commission Chairman Gayle Stevenson told the two dozen Mutton Hollow residents the commission wants to accommodate their request, but it also wants to avoid the legal challenges that have snarled the township process in Salt Lake County.
Salt Lake County held its elections Aug. 6 but locked up the ballots before they were counted, pending the outcome of a court challenge.
In approving wording for the proposed ordinance, the commissioners had to decide some policy issues, including how much power the township's board will wield.
The commission opted to make the board an advisory body to the Planning Commission. Any decisions the Planning Commission makes come to the County Commission sion for approval, Stevenson said, so the board will have the same rights of appeal to the commission as other citizens.
The commission also decided it will take a "super majority," that is, a majority of the affected property owners and not just a majority of the voters who cast ballots, to establish a township.
That wording was recommended by Hess, who said it follows the wording of the state statute. It was Salt Lake County's decision to go with a simple majority of the voters that set up their court challenge.
If the courts eventually rule that a simple majority is sufficient, Davis can amend its ordinance to comply, Hess advised.
That decision did not trouble the residents at Monday's meeting, who told the commission they believe based on the response to their election petition that they can achieve a super majority.
"I really hope the Legislature can address these issues in its next session," said Hess, referring to the numerous problems in the current version of the law.
The commission also decided two elections will be needed, one to form the township and a second one to elect three members of its board. The statute provides that three of the board members will be elected, three appointed by the commission, and the seventh picked by the first six.
The second election must be held within 90 days of the first, under the ordinance adopted Wednesday, which also sets a 30-day filing period for board candidates after the September election.
Isom told the commission she expects the second election, if necessary, will not be held before the Nov. 4 general election.