The roadblocks seem to pile up against Aspen, Utah.
The as-yet-to-be-incorporated town would be located on 8,366 acres in Daniels Canyon, south of Heber City.
But residents in the area and a local water company, anxious to avoid belonging to the planned resort community, have filed four petitions to annex into the nearby town of Daniel.
The Daniel Town Council has accepted two petitions for review: those of Storm Haven, and the Daniels Domestic Water Co. The other two, filed by separate groups of residents on Little Sweden Road, have yet to be officially received for review.
Daniel Mayor Mike Duggin said the 100-or-so Little Sweden residents west of U.S. 40 originally were supposed to be part of Daniel when it incorporated in February 2006 but were drawn out of the final incorporation map.
Six residents on the same street east of U.S. 40 filed a petition Friday morning.
Of the four petitions, the Storm Haven annexation petition would do the most damage to Arizona developer Dean Sellers' plans to incorporate the town he wants to call Aspen. It would eliminate a sufficient number of residents (Sellers needs at least 100) to incorporate.
Sellers says it's a dream for him to build a world-class master-planned town with private money instead of using government subsidies and incentives. Eventually, though studies haven't been completed, the area could include a ski resort.
But that isn't the point, Sellers said.
"We're in this for the people, not for the money," he said during a news conference Friday.
The Storm Haven petition includes residents of the three subdivisions Storm Haven, Tammy Lane and Crazy Acres all located in the vicinity of Sellers' land.
Storm Haven resident Kasey Bateman and others gathered enough signatures to have what appears to be a valid petition, which Daniel's attorney and recorder are reviewing. Their petition was filed with Daniel seven hours before Sellers filed his petition for incorporation with Wasatch County.
Wasatch County officials said Sellers' petition appeared to comply with the requirements of HB466, passed by the Utah Legislature in February and signed into law by Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. in March.
Everything complied, except for that pending annexation petition.
But Sellers' attorney, Steven Clyde, said the Storm Haven annexation petition is "fatally defective and deficient in so many ways."
Despite a threat of litigation on Monday, the Daniel Town Council unanimously voted to accept what is known as the Storm Haven annex for review and a similar petition by the Daniels Domestic Water Co., against which Sellers has brought a lawsuit. The water company is a nonprofit corporation that serves some Daniel residents with drinking water.
The company's board voted 65-5 on Nov. 30 to become either Daniel's water department or a special service district of the town.
The vote happened shortly after Sellers had the company president, Lynn Crisler, served with notice and a copy of the lawsuit, said Daniel's mayor, who was at the meeting.
Sellers' West Daniels Land Association sued the water company for what it calls trespassing, involving dumping refuse and other waste products on its property.
Crisler said he was shocked to find out Sellers is suing the water company, because Crisler was under the impression he had an agreement with Sellers for use of that land.
Crisler said the agreement was that Sellers' company would provide security to the area and the water company would maintain a quarter-mile section of road that West Daniels Land workers use.
According to a news release from West Daniels Land, the water company should dispose of refuse at appropriate disposal facilities and that some of the waste may contain hazardous or toxic wastes. Clyde said Friday that an environmental survey will be ordered and said the water company's staff has left gates open that allowed people to trespass on Sellers' land.
Crisler said he is in talks with his attorney about how to proceed.
Despite the apparent roadblocks, Sellers and his attorneys agree that Aspen will move forward.
And they predict that by following the requirements of HB466, they will eventually overcome the challenges they face."We would not be here if we didn't feel absolutely confident we're going to prevail at the end of day," Clyde said. "Are there alternatives? Yes. This is the one Mr. Sellers has chosen to follow."
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