clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Annexation a hot issue in Alpine

Expansion is a key ingredient in the city's near future. Certain factions want it, others don't.

New city officials, as did past city officials, will face several key annexation issues: mainly, the Kester-Freeze annexation of about 160 acres of mountain property to the east, aptly named East Mountain.All three City Council candidates oppose the annexation. Even though the land was actually annexed in March 1995 after much controversy, a referendum to de-annex the land will be on next week's ballot. But whether the votes will count is still unsure because of a lawsuit filed recently by a property owner.

Two city council seats and the mayor's post are up for election, but Mayor Joel Hall and council members Kent Hansen and Mel Clement declined to run again.

"I have other personal plans (and I) need more time. I really enjoyed the four years I served," Hall said.

Two current council members, Don Watkins and Sheldon Wim-mer, are vying for the mayor's seat. Planning Commissioner Larry Brown, attorney Phillip D. Barker and gemologist Richard T. Branscomb are seeking the two council seats.

Proponents of the de-annexation referendum want the land back under county jurisdiction where large lot sizes are required. Others want the land in city limits where city officials can manage the development. The city has already installed sewer and water lines on the property.

Other annexation issues involve squaring off city boundaries to the north and the east. Alpine Cove, with about 40 homes and 20 undeveloped lots on more than 80 acres, and several smaller parcels comprising more than 350 acres, are also being considered for annexation.

MAYOR

Don Watkins

Address: 1005 N. Grove Drive

Age: 44

Occupation: Part owner and CEO of ACI Computer Accessories.

Experience: Incumbent councilman and former planning commissioner. Executive director of the Utah Chapter of Operation Smile, a volunteer organization that raises money for doctors and nurses to go throughout the world to provide free facial surgeries for poverty-stricken children. He is also active in other community and church organizations.

Dealing with growth: Watkins believes in maintaining certain standards in areas of public safety, roads and parks. He wants the land-use plan finished before more annexations take place.

"But my strategy or platform has to do with the way we do business in city government. That involves three key issues: number one, who our customer is. As public servants we often forget that it's the citizens who put us there. Number two, we need to spend more energy understanding their needs and wants. Number three, we need to do a better job of responding to those needs and wants."

Watkins also believes the mayor can bridge the gap between residents and city officials through better communication.

Sheldon Wimmer

Address: 77 N. 200 East

Age: 50

Occupation: State farm management officer for Bureau of Land Management.

Experience: Incumbent councilman and previously elected to council for one term in 1980. He served on the Southern Utah Planning Activities Commission, a state and federal cooperative effort; the Wayne County Tourism Board and on an industrial development board in that county.

Dealing with growth: Wimmer believes in orderly growth that follows the guidelines of city ordinances and planning. The city needs to first complete its master plan, including the land-use element. He would like planning to represent all residents and would like to see a downtown heritage area developed with business consolidated in one area.

The city has to grow and change with the demands of growth, he said. That includes modernizing the city approval system. He would also like to see improvements in the parks and recreation department to match the needs of the community.

"We're trying to keep up with it - paying for it is the critical thing," he said.

CITY COUNCIL

(2 seats)

Larry Brown

Address: 980 N. Eastview Dr.

Age: 49

Occupation: Process improvement consultant at Novell Inc.

Experience: In addition to serving as planning commissioner for the past three years, Brown was a naval officer in the Vietnam War and serves as a commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He's a former Big Brother for six years and has held various church and Boy Scout positions.

Dealing with growth: The City Council needs to plan strictly to manage growth.

"We have to ensure that the population doesn't exceed our vision for Alpine or our capacity to provide essential services. Strict growth management needs to include enforcement of existing zones and densities," he said.

Brown doesn't want to see an increase in population densities. He wants to see the hillside growth restricted and controlled to ensure access to trails and wilderness. The restrictions would avoid contamination to the water aquifer and would protect mountain views and wildlife habitat.

"It's also crucial to protect ground water supplies and educate the public on ways to conserve it," he said.

Phillip D. Barker

Address: 835 S. East Mountain Circle

Age: 41

Occupation: Self-employed attorney at law.

Experience: Worked on U.S. Judiciary Committee with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Dealing with growth: "It's OK as long as it does not affect the unique quality of Alpine. It should be done under a master plan accepted by the residents and in a manner that the schools, fire department and police can maintain," he said.

But Barker opposes the Kester-Freeze annexation. He prefers the land go back to county jurisdiction where zoning requires between five and 50 acres per house, rather than the current one-acre zoning under city jurisdiction.

"I am not very happy with building on the side of the mountain where it visually impairs our city," he said.

The referendum should have been put on the agenda last year, he said. Meanwhile, developers have been given another year to build while negotiations between the city and residents favoring the referendum have gone on.

"That makes it more questionable what will happen," he said.

Richard T. Branscomb

Address: 45 S. Lone Peak Dr.

Age: 44

Occupation: He founded Sierra West Diamond Stores with three outlets in the Salt Lake area and one, his headquarters, in Orem.

Experience: Former planning commissioner and ran in the last general election for mayor and eight years ago ran for City Council. President of the Orem Rotary Club for 11 years and served on the Alpine Days Committee for more than three years. Graduate gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America.

Dealing with growth: Branscomb believes growth has leveled off on the surface, but Alpine has 600 approved lots available that could add at least 30 percent to the population. The roads and elementary school cannot support that kind of expansion, he said.

He sees water supplies as in a precarious position. While Alpine is in a wet cycle now, in dry years the water supplies could be threatened, he said.

Branscomb fought against the controversial Kester-Freeze annexation several years ago. He still believes the county should get that land back under its jurisdiction.

"It's a fighting mad issue," he said.