Don’t put Utah County foothills at risk

Utah Land

Two weeks ago the Utah County Commission made a decision against their staff’s recommendation to approve a zoning change in northern Utah County. This change would allow development on what has historically been protected land. Prior to this break with precedent, the area had been preserved in order to protect and conserve the water supply, vegetation, soils, wildlife and other natural resources within the watershed.

We Decide is an effort to let the people of Utah County decide what happens to our mountains. We do not believe that most of Utah County’s citizens want more houses built near recent mudslides and wild land fires. Millions of dollars in damage and repairs from recent fires and floods came at taxpayer expense.

We propose putting this issue into the hands of the people by voting on it in the next elections. In order to get this issue on the ballot, we need to gather 20,000 signatures by Jan. 30 from registered voters in Utah County. We are making history in this effort. Once completed, it will be the first ever successful Utah County referendum.

For 20 years I have fought hard to maintain this protected area. The land provides a buffer zone that keeps residences away from potential hazards like landslides and fires, and allows for wildlife like deer to avoid denser neighborhoods and streets. We have seen the damage that landslides can cause in North Salt Lake and the Cedar Hills area.

It is my firm belief that further development in this area is irresponsible and completely disregards the wishes of Utah County citizens. Changing the zone would also create a future precedent for building even higher up the mountainside across Utah County. This sudden decision to allow for development in a historically protected area is a departure from responsible planning and does not represent what the people of Utah County want.

We Decide will circulate petitions to all areas in Utah County. We encourage you to exercise your right to vote by signing when they come your way.

For those who would like to sign the petition immediately, volunteer or find more information, please contact us on our Facebook page: We Decide Utah. You can also visit their website by clicking here.

Don Watkins is mayor of Alpine.

Source: SL Tribune

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/2036342-155/op-ed-dont-put-utah-county-foothills