Residents of a golf course subdivision would prefer that Utah Power build a proposed substation somewhere besides their back yards.
They have battled for more than a month with the company and have twice convinced the Layton Planning and Zoning Commission to table a decision on whether to recommend approval to the City Council.That decision is expected at the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council chambers.
Gaining any further victories could prove difficult, however. The land for the substation is owned by Utah Power, is zoned for commercial use, and has been scheduled for such a project since 1981.
"We have a right to this property," said Steve Rush, Utah Power's general business manager. "The only, real issue is what conditions they (Layton) will impose on the project."
Despite residents' protests, Utah Power feels that the site, located near 1100 East and 3000 North, provides the best bang for its buck.
Because of the site's central location to the more than 4,000 customers the substation will eventually serve, very few additional lines will need to be run. Also, property acquisition won't pose a cost problem, and the site has already been plotted by engineers.
"There are always other options," Rush said. "But from our side, it needs to meet the engineering criteria and not add significantly to the cost."
Not all residents agree that Utah Power has exhausted all of its options.
"It's frustrating," said Brook Mitchell, who lives a block from the site. "We don't want to live our lives next to a substation."
On Monday at an open house sponsored by Utah Power, some of those homeowners proposed possible alternatives for the substation site.
Although Utah Power officials agreed the other sites had potential, each had at least one substantial obstacle that the current site does not.
Some would cost too much to acquire. Some, such as a site near the current landfill, would require too much ground preparation and environmental cleanup. And others were just too far away from the northeast corner of Layton, where the 4,000 eventual customers for the substation live.
And in every case, time was a factor. The company needs the $2 million substation on line by next summer, or else Layton residents could face power shortages similar to ones experienced this summer in Sandy, said Roger Rigby, property engineer for Utah Power.
"We feel we have the most feasible site," Rigby said. "We would rather work through all of the issues involved with this site."
One major issue has been rumors that living near a substation can cause leukemia in children. Primarily, that idea is based on studies from the 1970s, none of which have been consistently backed up since then, said Kent Jaffa, principal engineer for Utah Power.
The problem with proving or disproving that theory has been that nobody knows what causes leukemia, Jaffa said. "They don't know how to control the problem because they don't know the causes of the problem," he said.
Residents say they understand the need for the substation. They just don't want it built in their neighborhood.
"We all know we need these, but like prisons and toxic dumps, nobody wants them in their backyards," said Eric Hancock, whose house would sit directly across the street from the substation.
Like many of his neighbors, Hancock worries about property devaluation. Some have even put their homes up for sale, hoping to salvage their investments.
The property devaluation has already occurred, however, according to Utah Power. In a pamphlet provided to homeowners, the company states that real estate studies have proven the large power lines - already in existence behind Hancock's house - devalue a home, while substations don't.
Hancock said he'll wait and see.
"I'd imagine that it (the substation) would be unsightly," he said. "It could become a problem."