Several landowners in the southern part of the county are wondering whether they'll live to see the removal of a 31/2-mile dike built in 1984 to stem flooding in the Benjamin-Lakeshore area.
The county began moving the dike earlier this year but is taking too long, five landowners told the County Commission Monday.By next spring, landowners said, they want the dike moved about a quarter mile north of its present site to where it should have been built in the first place.
Landowners affected by the dike's construction say they approved the dike under the impression that the structure would be removed once flooding stopped. They said the county has been slow to honor commitments regarding the dike's removal and complained that the dike has prevented them from using their land and caused irrigation problems.
"Am I going to live to see this resolved?" Albert Cornaby asked the commission.
Another property owner, Reed Christmas, told commissioners, "We think you fellows made one hell of a mistake."
Following a lengthy, and at times heated, discussion, the commission agreed to renew efforts to resolve the issue and address landowner concerns.
Commissioners and landowners discussed several requests landowners said must be addressed for county officials to make good on promises and to allow landowners full use of their land. Commissioners said they couldn't offer guarantees but agreed to address landowner requests.
Landowners are asking that the county replace all irrigation ditches destroyed by the dike, furnish materials needed to rebuild destroyed fences, move the dike, replace topsoil and restore wells to their natural flowing state - all to the landowners' satisfaction.
"I don't know what guarantee we can get into guaranteeing that they'll be flowing wells," Commission Chairman Malcolm Beck said. He said the county will clean out wells, but "I'm not sure we could enter into an agreement that would guarantee . . . they're going to flow at the same capacity."
Beck said the county would have no problem replacing irrigation ditches and providing fencing material, but said the county would not be obligated to restore topsoil "to the satisfaction of the landowners."
In addition, landowners are requesting that the dike be moved to private property to which landowners would retain full rights. And they're asking that the dike have no public access, protect land from Utah Lake and be breached to allow for wastewater removal and irrigation between the lake and dike.
Landowners also want to be compensated should the county take longer than an agreed-upon date to address concerns and move the dike.
Commissioner Gary Anderson reminded landowners the dike was built to protect homes and property and that they all benefited from it. He said the county isn't obligated to restore the area affected by the dike to its original state.
"I'm not sure how far our obligation goes," Anderson said. "You got some benefit from that dike. I don't think the county is obligated to put things back to your satisfaction."
Commissioners questioned the wisdom of moving the dike to a new location.
"I'm a little concerned about building a new dike," Anderson said. "We haven't had a lot of success building dikes for you guys. We should never have built the dike."