Councilman's anonymous letter lays groundwork for repeal of no Sunday shopping in Highland

Published: Thursday, April 19 2012 8:00 p.m. MDT

Highland Mayor Lynn V. Ritchie said he believes any letter should be signed, and that the unsigned approach damages promises of transparency.

City Councilman Brian Braithwaite, who said he supports keeping the current closure ordinance in place, called the absence of a signature on the letter "unfortunate."

"I see it influencing people both ways, " Braithwaite said. "There's plenty of time between now and the election to straighten that out," he said. "This will absolutely be a big discussion between now and the election."

Butler said one problem he sees with the current closure ordinance is that it is not consistent. Grocery stores must close but convenience stores and the restaurants can be open. Patrons at the Alpine Country Club can golf and get a full meal, with liquor, "But you can't buy a pack of diapers at the grocery store."

Residents polled outside a Highland grocery store on Thursday generally supported the current closure ordinance, though not all said they would vote against the change in November.

"I personally probably wouldn't be participating in purchasing on Sundays," said Toby Norton, who has lived in Highland about 10 years. "If that's what the community wants and supports, that's their decision," he added, saying he was undecided about how he would vote in November.

Homeowner Ben Austin said he favors Sunday closures and would pay higher property taxes to keep the community the way it is. He said he favors more work to find new revenue sources in addition to property taxes to keep the city's budget afloat.

Robin Austin moved to Highland two years ago and supports the current closures. "I think a lot of the people who moved here moved here for the values that the town has."

Highland resident Howard Bangerter, president of the Highland East Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, attended Tuesday's hearing. "We have members of the church that are on both sides of that issue," he said. "I was just pleased to see there was a healthy dialogue, democracy at work, and the system that played out according to our system of government."

"We recognize that people have agency to feel how they feel on both sides. We would not try to dictate to anybody how they should vote. Highland has been a great place to raise a family. We feel like it will continue to be a great place to raise a family," Bangerter said.

Smith said most of the criticism on the issue "has been attacking the messenger, not the message." He said if he decides to write a city-wide letter again, "I'll make sure my name's there in bold type."

E-mail: sfidel@desnews.com

Twitter: SteveFidel

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