CHARLESTON, Wasatch County Leaders in the town of Daniel decided Monday to accept for review an annexation petition from a group of residents who don't want to belong to the proposed town of Aspen, Utah.
The decision, though a preliminary step, was met with applause by more than 110 residents of Daniel and unincorporated Wasatch County who attended the meeting.
Kasey Bateman, a resident who sponsored the annexation petition, said he's relieved by the council's decision.
"My hard work has finally paid off," said Bateman, who, along with this wife and neighbors, circulated petitions to area residents Nov. 8 at 5:50 a.m. and submitted them to Daniel's recorder at 9:30 a.m.
That beat Arizona developer Dean Sellers' incorporation petition for Aspen by seven hours.
Sellers wants to build the town of Aspen on 8,366 acres in Daniels Canyon. After 35 years doing residential development in Arizona, he said, he wants this town to be his last hurrah, a chance for him to, as he put it, go "riding into the sunset on a white horse." He says his plans for Aspen, Utah, would give Aspen, Colo., Vail, Colo., and Park City a run for their money.
Sellers' town, which would include an 18-hole golf course and ski resort, would be built on grazing land above Daniels Canyon.
Many of the residents of the three subdivisions Crazy Acres, Tammy Lane and Storm Haven that comprise all of Sellers' potential population, are unhappy with the prospect of Sellers' town.
They say that's not because they are anti-development. But they don't like the way Sellers has tried to sell his town.
The Nov. 8 petition was the residents' third one, and it halted Aspen's progress.
To incorporate, Sellers would need at least 100 residents inside the Aspen, Utah, boundaries. If the town of Daniel accepts the annexation petition, Sellers wouldn't have the required population.
Utah code says that a county's governing body must deny a petition for incorporation if an annexation petition for the same land is pending.
The Wasatch County Council denied Sellers' incorporation petition Nov. 21.
So Aspen's future fell into the hands of the mayor and four councilmen of a town yet to hit its second birthday.
Bateman, during his presentation to the town council, said he has a majority of residents on his side.
"(They) would like to be in the town of Daniel because of shared ideals and a shared vision," he said. "The town was incorporated to conserve rural and agricultural character and sense of community."
Sellers' attorney, Steven Clyde, has called the annexation petition "sloppy" and "riddled with deficiencies."
"I'm not sure why Daniel would be willing to be used by these people outside of Daniel to fight their fight," Clyde said.
And Sellers said the residents who circulated the petition did it for "little, selfish designs."
Clyde said he expects to sue the town of Daniel if the petition is eventually accepted.
Though Daniel Mayor Mike Duggin has received a letter from Thomas Boyle, another of Sellers' attorneys, stating the town's deadline to reject the annexation petition was Monday, a search of court records showed no lawsuit had been filed Monday.
A phone call to Sellers' public relations firm Monday after the town council's decision was not returned.Monday's decision was just the first step in a monthlong process of checking the annexation documents for accuracy, certifying the petition, weighing any protests to annexation and eventually holding a public hearing and final vote on annexation.