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Meetings to focus on county borders

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DRAPER — Neighbors in the ridgeline subdivision of SunCrest could one day share a community center and work together in community watch programs, as in any neighborhood.

Yet those same neighbors could have children in different schools, obtain trash service from different districts, and drink water supplied by different service districts. In fact, some residents may even have homes where moving between rooms would mean crossing a county line.

Because of the jurisdiction issue in developments like SunCrest, a Draper subdivision that lies primarily in Utah County, the Utah Legislature could soon have to decide how to handle boundary issues when a city annexes into a neighboring county. The first of multiple meetings about the boundary issue is scheduled for Wednesday, July 18, with the Legislature's political subdivisions interim committee.

Although SunCrest has brought attention to the issue, it is not the only development in Utah that poses a potential boundary conflict among counties, cities and developers, said Rep. Dave Hogue, R-Riverton.

"Whether it's SunCrest or XYZ development doesn't really make any difference," Hogue said. "This is about developers that have crossed county lines."

The most significant problem is that no rules exist regarding annexation by counties and that the lines are pretty much set in stone, Hogue said. When cities annex land from a neighboring county — as Draper did with parts of Utah County — the resulting development can lead to turf wars.

Already, Utah County and Salt Lake County have started to squabble about which county should provide services. Many of Draper's services, such as police and fire protection, are provided by Salt Lake County, and the only access to SunCrest is from the north side of Point of the Mountain. Yet most of the SunCrest homes are in Utah County, which means that Utah County would tax the properties.

Other problems that the boundary issues have caused are which school district will service the subdivision and where residents will vote. Additionally, simply sticking to the county boundaries will not necessarily work, since there are a number of lots that may be on the county line, meaning that a home could literally sit in two counties.

Besides SunCrest, boundary disputes are also imminent in South Weber, a Davis County city that has annexed into Weber County, and Park City, which has annexed land in Wasatch County. In southern Utah County, the reverse could possibly happen, where Juab County residents want to annex into Santaquin.

The most logical solution may be to make it easier to adjust county lines, said Dave Spatafore, lobbyist for the Utah League of Cities and Towns, although that is not the only potential solution. What is important is that the Legislature set some ground rules quickly, especially regarding voting, school and special service districts, as well as the collection of taxes.

"As Utah is growing and developers keep developing, this could become a situation that is not unique," Spatafore said.

E-MAIL: jloftin@desnews.com