GENOLA Call it optimism, but Sandra Greenwood anticipates that Genola residents will put the kibosh on a controversial annexation proposal that, if approved on Nov. 6, would double the small city's population.
"We're gonna nail it," said Greenwood, who heads up efforts to defeat the annexation deal. "The impact of this annexation would be devastating on the town."
City officials decided to turn the annexation proposal over to the public during the upcoming election because it has become a divisive topic.
"This issue demanded (a public vote), and it seemed like the best solution," said Mayor Eric Hazelet. "Whichever way the people vote, we'll act."
It started when Mountain Shores Development approached the city with a 700-acre annexation proposal. Greenwood said she and other residents opposed the deal, which would add about 350 homes to the city, because the growth would be too much, too soon.
"If we can't take care of what we have now, how could we ever think of taking care of that much more?" she asked. "We need to take care of our own citizens before we take care of others."
Greenwood also said residents were concerned because of several perceived conflicts of interest on the City Council. Councilman Brian Draper owns about 120 acres near the proposed subdivision and Genola, and his property would be annexed as well. Councilman Mike Vail works at an engineering firm for one of the landowners involved in the annexation petition.
Hazelet said the perceived conflicts of interest did not influence city officials' decision to turn the annexation proposal over to a public vote.
Hazelet understands residents' concern about growth. It took 100 years for Genola to reach its current population which hovers at about 1,000 residents, according to several estimates and the annexation would make the city "explode overnight." But the deal is not without its enticements, he said.
"There are some benefits to the tune of about $7.5 million," Hazelet said.
Mountain Shores Development offered to dig a well, install two new water tanks and pay for new roads and water lines, he said. The company also agreed to give the city 10 acres for a marina on the south side of Utah Lake, as well as an equestrian park. But Greenwood said Genola's Planning Commission recommended the council pass on the deal.
"That tells you something right there," Greenwood said.
Greenwood said she's excited the issue is going to the voters, but she's concerned because the council will write the ballot question and explaining sentence.
"That's very slanted," she said.
But Hazelet said the ballot will be on the level.
"It's pretty straightforward," he said.
While Greenwood is certain the annexation proposal will be rejected, others aren't so confident.
Chad Beus of Mountain Shores Development said the company is waiting for the outcome of the vote before it goes to Utah County commissioners with alternative options for developing its land, including building a new city."We thought we'd wait until the vote," he said. "You never know with these things. It usually depends on who shows up to vote."
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