Reed Christmas hasn't given up hope that the Utah County Commission will help make his new year a little happier.
Christmas, who has been before the commission several times, on Monday renewed his 4-year-old request that the county remove a county-built dike from his property. The 31/2-mile dike was built in 1984 to stem flooding in the Benjamin-Lakeshore area.A committee of more than 20 affected landowners has worked to resolve the issue, and the county has settled both in and out of court with most of the owners. But the county has yet to come to terms with seven landowners.
"Obviously, the committee doesn't mean anything to you fellows," Christmas told commissioners.
He read a contract signed March 3, 1984, by County Engineer Clyde Naylor in which Christmas was guaranteed his wells and fences would not be damaged by the dike's construction. The contract also guaranteed removal of the dike within 18 months after its construction.
Because the contract was not signed by commissioners, it was found to be non-binding. The county still is trying to honor the contract's intent, Naylor said, but Christmas and other landowners have complained that the county is taking too long. They say the dike has prevented them from using land and has caused irrigation problems.
"I'm interested in nothing but this contract you people fixed up," Christmas said. "This thing is beyond a joke. We need some protection from you damn people."
Commission Chairman Malcolm Beck said the county has attempted to settle with all landowners but that a lack of consensus by owners has slowed the process. While some landowners want the dike left where it is, others want it removed completely or relocated nearby.
Beck said county attorneys have been authorized to do all they can to settle with landowners. "That's what we're doing and that's what we've been doing," he said.
Christmas said the dike sits on top of a well and has prevented him from using his land.
"I've got 50 acres I can't get irrigation water to," he said. "We need this property bad. It's all on God's earth I have left, and I can't get one dollar out of it."
Naylor said landowners have been offered a choice between taking a cash settlement from the county in exchange for leaving the dike where it is or having thecounty move the dike. The problem, he said, is that some landowners want the dike moved northward to the shore of Utah Lake.
"We don't have an easement to do that and probably can't get one," Naylor said. "But we're still trying to move the dike elsewhere for those who want it."