There was a traffic jam on Redwood Road Tuesday night as a crowd moved from City Hall to a nearby school to see if West Jordan's population would balloon by 20 percent.
A cheer went up in the school's auditorium when the City Council voted to amend its annexation policy and annex a chunk of land that would increase the city's population by 11,000 residents. "We finally know where we live," a man told his son as the two left the hearing.Other municipalities have five days to protest West Jordan's intent. The City Council plans to formally approve the annexation next Tuesday.
About 300 people tried to cram into the City Council chambers at City Hall for a public hearing on the annexation of 3,728 acres between 6200 South and 8600 South and 4800 West and 8200 West. The area is now unincorporated Salt Lake County land and includes the Oquirrh Shadows subdivision.
As the crowd overflowed into the hall and stretched fire code restrictions, city officials squelched the proceedings and ushered the group to the West Jordan Middle School three blocks away.
About 25 speakers addressed the council from an audience that was largely in support of the annexation. "The question today isn't why annex Oquirrh Shadows, but rather why not?" said Sherie Allen.
Allen said she is represented in the 73 percent of Oquirrh Shadows residents who signed a petition in support of the annexation. Natural boundaries confirm the area to be part of West Jordan. Crime is low in the subdivision and people there are great to live with, she said.
"Ask yourselves: Are these not the kind of people you'd like to have in your good city?" she said. "Our destiny is literally in your hands."
Wendy Brooks, a leader in the effort to incorporate neighboring Kearns, read a letter from Salt Lake County attorney's office that called the annexation illegal in view of current changes in incorporation law. "Your master plan doesn't take precedence over everyone else's."
A long-standing discussion between Kearns and Oquirrh Shadows centers around Kearns' effort to incorporate. Incorporation law and rulings from the Utah Supreme Court have put on hold the Kearns effort. Much of the area annexed by West Jordan is included in the Kearns incorporation boundary.
Some Oquirrh Shadows residents have expressed an allegiance with West Jordan over Kearns, associating Kearns with lower property values, higher crime rates and other problems.
West Jordan officials said their legal counsel believes residents showed their support in the numbers who signed petitions.
Council member Brian Pitts acknowledged the issue after the public comment period finished. "We're not fools; we feel we stand on firm legal ground in going through with the annexation tonight."
Brooks' comments also garnered a response from Jeff Stickley who said, "We don't want to be Kearns. We're not Kearns. We're West Jordan."
The cheers for Stickley and jeers for Brooks disturbed speaker Tonya Woolsey, an Oquirrh Shadows resident who said she wasn't for or against the annexation. "We only stir up trouble when we have negative attitudes about other people. It really concerns me."
After, many council members offered their support for the annexation.
"I had grave concerns initially about the fiscal responsibility and fiscal viability," said Mike DeMass. "I've questioned the numbers all the way, but I have to admit, it looks to me like it will work."