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Hooper may become new city
Vote is May 2; Fremont Island is part of package

HOOPER, Weber County -- Mark it down: May 2. The day when Hooper voters will go to the polls and decide whether they want to form Utah's newest city.

A special election, scheduled by the Weber County Commission, will ask Hooper residents if they want to incorporate and if so, what form of government they want to run their new city.A third item on the special election ballot will ask whether, if Hooper does become a city of the third class, City Council members should be elected by district or at-large.

An unusual aspect of this election is that if Hooper does incorporate, this small rural community on the east shore of the Great Salt Lake will become the only city in Utah with its own island.

Fremont Island, to be exact.

Currently part of the Hooper township, the 2,900-acre island was included in the incorporation petition submitted to the county and was evaluated as part of the feasibility study that must be performed prior to any municipal incorporation.

But the only residents of Fremont Island historically have been birds, the natural critters living there and sheep that have been transported to the island for grazing.

Also, there are no roads to the small island, so the only way to travel to and from Fremont is by boat or helicopter.

Weber County Commission Chairman Kenneth Bischoff admitted the inclusion of the island in the incorporation petition had caused "a little concern" for county officials.

"We've never had an island become part of a city," he said.

But Bischoff also said he doubts the island factor will affect the outcome of the May 2 special election.

"We feel pretty good about the feasibility study," the commission chairman said. "They (petitioners) met all the requirements. The tax base will be small, but they may be OK with some growth.

"If Hooper decides to become a city, it will be able to contract for all municipal services," he added.

Bischoff said the county, however, may have to lend the community some "start-up money" if the incorporation is approved.

When Marriott-Slaterville incorporated, county officials lent the new city $25,000 to cover its initial expenses until revenues started flowing into the city coffers. The loan has since been paid off, the commissioner noted.

He also said there is no opposition to the proposed incorporation among county commissioners.

"Hooper residents have just stepped up to protect their community and retain their identity," Bischoff added.

Linda Lunceford, Weber County's clerk-auditor, said Hooper would become the eighth-largest city in the county with a population of roughly 4,670 if residents opt for incorporation.

Traditional Hooper straddles the Davis and Weber county lines, and only the Weber portion of Hooper is involved in the incorporation vote. The Davis side will remain unincorporated.