Utah County commissioners on Monday approved a petition of incorporation submitted by Vineyard residents, making the 2,805-acre agricultural and industrial area west of Orem the state's newest town.

Anticipating the commission's approval, Vineyard residents already have prepared articles of incorporation and selected Rulon Gammon, who has acted as Vineyard spokesman, for recommendation to the commission for appointment as mayor. Town Council members, also previously selected for recommendation to the commission, are Morris Clegg, Stan Morris, Robert Holdaway and Grace Holdaway.The new town, which includes the Geneva Steel plant, comprises the area west of Geneva Road between approximately Eighth South and 16th North.

Vineyard residents, including the 40 who attended Monday's public hearing on the incorporation, unanimously support the incorporation, Gammon told commissioners. Incorporation will present its challenges, he said, but local autonomy will allow town residents to better meet those challenges.

Homer Chandler, executive director of the Mountainlands Association of Governments, recommended that incorporation be postponed pending an in-depth study on alternatives, such as remaining unincorporated or being annexed into a neighboring city like Orem.

"Pressures such as neighboring development, ability of utilities such as water and sewer, potential development on Utah Lake, the future of Geneva Steel and other industrial operations, and the likelihood of present landowners seeking changes in the use of their land will assuredly bring significant changes to Vineyard in the near future," Chandler said.

Chandler said the cost of internally providing services like police and fire protection, sewage disposal and road maintenance must be compared to what it would cost to contract with Orem or Utah County for those services.

He said the town's only stable source of revenue - about $80,000 in property taxes from Geneva - is adequate to maintain municipal services at current levels. But, he warned, the need for greater services likely will increase while tax revenue from Geneva could decrease.

County Auditor Bruce Peacock said current tax revenue raised in the Vineyard area is enough to cover only fire and police services, and he questioned how other services could be funded.

Bud Patton, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Geneva, said operators of the steel mill have plans only for continued growth. "The reason we are modernizing is so we can remain competitive into the next century," he said.

Orem Mayor Blaine Willes said he hopes Vineyard can remain a low-density residential area, but he said land uses and prices eventually may dictate otherwise. Willes said Vineyard should have spent more time addressing incorporation issues, adding, "We're not particularly excited about them doing it."

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(Additional story)

Local control

Vineyard-area residents hope that incorporation will allow them to preserve a sense of community, while giving them greater control over Vineyard's taxes and services.

890425 VINEYARD Input file was /asst/csi/0425/pass2/0151 Output file was /asst/csi/0425/pass3/0190