Despite getting mud flung in their direction, Herriman's community council is not apologizing for asking the Salt Lake County Commission to incorporate their community into a town.
Marion Millett, chairman of the Herriman council, is also not ashamed to say he's keeping his fingers crossed, hoping leverage from local millionaire James Sorenson will help to legally turn their 700-resident community into a own."Herriman's different," Millett said. "You approach it through wheat fields, then find yourself in a little town. We have a very strong desire to preserve the identity of the community."
If the commission approves the incorporation bid, Herriman would become the county's second town, following in the footsteps of Alta, which incorporated in 1970.
But not everyone in the south end of the valley is happy about the incorporation.
Deborah Watson, member of the Southwest Community Council, said she and her colleagues are doing everything in their power to put a stop to Sorenson's development of some 2,000 acres of land near Herriman.
Watson said she believes Sorenson is trying to "sneak through the back door" by being one of the property owners who signed Herriman's petition for incorporation.
Sorenson Development has proposed creating a community of about 5,400 housing units on 1,300 acres of land that surround 152 acres of commercial space and 450 acres of land preserved for open space.
But what sounds like "way too much too soon" according to Watson has actually been a yearlong process between the county and Sorenson, said county planner Cal Schneller.
Sorenson's project is in conflict with the area's master plan, said Schneller. That is why the county planning commission is conducting a general plan amendment study, he said.
"They could change the plan a lot, a little, or not end up changing anything," Schneller said.
Herriman's council chairman says he is upset that the Southwest Community Council, which didn't exist when negotiations began between Herriman and Sorenson, is now making such a fuss.
At a recent meeting in the Herriman Lions Club Hall, Herriman residents voted on whether to be annexed into Riverton, decline Riverton's overtures, or incorporate into a town, said Millett.
The vote was divided almost evenly among the three options. Later, 65 percent of Herriman residents signed a petition in favor of the incorporation, giving proponents the support they needed to petition the county.
For Millett, the hardest stripe to take is the Southwest council's assertion that their land is being stolen in the deal.
Sorenson's land makes up about a quarter of the Southwest community, said Ron Rosquist, chairman of the Southwest Community Council. If Herriman annexes Sorenson's land, Southwest will be landlocked between Kennecott, Tooele County and Herriman, added Rosquist.
"When we filed for incorporation, there was no Southwest community," Millett responded, adding that the land does not belong to the Southwest community but to independent property owners who chose to put their name on the petition.
He explained that Sorenson agreed to help Herriman with the costs of incorporation if the community would support Sorenson's development and preference for a Legacy Highway alignment at 5200 West.
Some county residents living in the unincorporated Rose Canyon and High Country Estate communities felt left out because they weren't included.
"There are some hard feelings," said Millett, adding that inclusion of those areas would have put Herriman's population at more than 800 - the maximum allowed for towns. Anything more than 800 and Herriman would have to petition to incorporate as a city, which is a more complicated process.
Don Wallace, vice president of Sorenson's real estate division, emphasized that the discussions and proceedings in both the county and Herriman are separate.
The only formal application for development Sorenson has submitted is now under review at the county, just as Herriman's incorporation application is in county hands, Wallace explained.
The two processes do not depend on each other, Wallace added.
"I think the Herriman Community Council has been independent, and they've worked quite hard to be independent," he said. "I think the county has been the same. We invite the Southwest community, Herriman, Riverton and Bluffdale to be involved in the process."
The earliest decision on Herriman's incorporation would not be made by the commission until around December. Until then, meetings between the county, Sorenson Development, and surrounding communities are expected to fine-tune plans for development in the area.