Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
FILE - Vehicles head down Big Cottonwood Canyon on Friday, April 21, 2017.

BRIGHTON — Brighton is one step closer to perhaps becoming the town of Brighton.

The Utah Lt. Governor's Office last week verified that a petition filed by Big Cottonwood Canyon residents last month seeking to incorporate Brighton met the legal requirements to proceed with the process.

That petition successfully gathered signatures from at least 20 percent of Brighton's registered voters and 20 percent of landowners, State Elections Deputy Director Justin Lee said Monday.

One more hurdle remains, however, before the question of whether Brighton should be a town can be posed to voters, possibly on next year's primary ballot.

The unincorporated community must now pass a feasibility study to determine if its tax base is strong enough to be self-sustaining.

"If the study comes back and says it's feasible, then at that point it can be put on the ballot," Lee said.

Bob and Barb Cameron, along with other Big Cottonwood Canyon residents, spearheaded the petition, wanting more control over how their communities' generated revenue is spent. They were thrilled when it was approved Wednesday.

"This is very exciting," Barb Cameron, also head of the Big Cottonwood Canyon Community Council, said Monday. "Big Cottonwood has been a cherished orphan for so many years. A lot of the money is generated up here and it never comes back to be reinvested."

Cameron said even though the canyon sees 1.7 million visitors a year, needs for toilets, traffic and trails haven't been adequately funded.

"Big Cottonwood doesn't deserve to be treated as a second-class canyon," she said.

However, critics of the incorporation effort such as Save Our Canyons — which had urged residents not to sign the petition — shared words of caution Monday.

"While the feasibility study will answer questions about taxes and services, one important question will be unanswered: Whether the million residents within Salt Lake County who rely on the Wasatch for everything from clean drinking water to recreation support the canyon’s future being decided by a handful of registered voters who own cabins within the proposed town boundary," said Robert DeBirk, policy director for Save Our Canyons.

DeBirk said Big Cottonwood Canyon is a "regional resource," and by "stripping the ability of county residents to have a say in decisions impacting the canyon and giving that power to roughly 200 voters in the canyon disenfranchises thousands of county residents who care deeply about the future of Big Cottonwood."

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It's not clear whether the community of Brighton will pass the feasibility study, but that may be impacted by whether Solitude Ski Resort decides to annex out of the area.

Lee said any property owners who own more than 1 percent of assessed value in the area can ask to have all or part of their property excluded. According to the county assessor, Solitude meets that requirement.

The ski resort has about a week from Monday to decide, Lee said.

Regardless, Cameron says she believes Brighton will pass the feasibility study.

"I think there's no doubt about it," she said.