A crowd of about 100 people erupted in cheers and applause after the Pleasant Grove City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to annex Manila Township.
Township residents questioned the council during a public hearing conducted before the council's vote and were reassured that their various concerns either had been addressed or would be in future council actions.The issue has been an emotional one, with residents of Manila's 72 homes faced with deciding whether they favored annexation by Pleasant Grove, annexation by Cedar Hills or remaining as part of the county.
Pleasant Grove Mayor Ed Sanderson told the crowd that his city will work with property owners to ensure they end up where they want to be. If owners of property located next to Cedar Hills decide they want to be part of that municipality, Pleasant Grove will work with Cedar Hills to realign the boundary between them, he said.
Also, Pleasant Grove is drafting a resolution allowing the city to pay the filing fee for Manila residents who choose to file in court to disconnect from Pleasant Grove and again be part of the county, Sanderson said.
During the public hearing, Manila Township Chairwoman Cindy Boyd expressed her strong support for the proposed annexation.
"I hope to soon be the no-more township chairman," she said.
According to a survey Boyd conducted of Manila residents, 78.2 percent wanted to be annexed by Pleasant Grove. The emotion of the issue was apparent as Boyd wept following the council's vote. She has been dealing with the issue for two years and said she just wanted "closure."
"We can just get back to the wonderful, friendly attitude we have in Manila," Boyd said after the meeting.
During the meeting, Sanderson and city staff addressed residents' concerns such as whether animal rights would be continued and how sewer hookups would be handled if the area were annexed. Residents were assured that if they had animals now, they would be able to retain them.
Pleasant Grove Public Works Director Frank Mills told the crowd that the city had studied how it would provide water and sewer services to the Manila area and felt these services could be provided without problems.
Cedar Hills Councilman Ken Cromar reminded Pleasant Grove council members that a poll conducted by Utah County Commissioner Jerry Grover indicated 77 percent of Manila residents considered staying in the county as their first choice.
He also said Cedar Hills and the county were both willing to have the Manila area stay part of the county forever. Following the meeting, Cromar said he felt most sorry for those people who really wanted to stay part of the county.
"And there were many," he said. "I would like to call it a happy ending, but I don't think that this is the end."
Sanderson said during the meeting and reiterated afterward that he thought Pleasant Grove would again end up in court over the decision. Pleasant Grove and Cedar Hills are currently disputing in court another annexation enacted by Pleasant Grove.
"Now we'll cut the pie and hopefully it will be good pieces and everyone will get what they want," Sanderson said.
Following the meeting, Cromar said he believed Sanderson mis-spoke when he speculated on Cedar Hills' intentions to challenge the decision in court.
"Our mayor's assured me that that's not our position," Cromar said, adding that Cedar Hills will not have any problems with the action if it is carried out in the manner spelled out in the public hearing.
He said that during the past year and a half, Cedar Hills has been "vilified" and fear of a forced annexation by Cedar Hills used as "a motivating factor to get people to want to go to Pleasant Grove."
The annexation includes a portion of Cedar Hills' Main Street, Cromar said.
"The heart of Cedar Hills has been cut out, but we are a fiscally sound community and we have a very bright future. This will not hurt us," he said.