Van Welch | Staff Writer | [email protected]
A recent property development by Patterson Construction in Alpine, has some Utah County residents up in arms, including some UVU students. A group of home owners banded together, under the leadership of attorney Ron Madson, and created the grassroots organization We Decide to combat the development of the privately owned land. The goal for We Decide was to acquire nearly 18,000 signatures by registered voters in the county.
Unfortunately, Alpine only houses a small number of registered voters so the petitions have spread south and several UVU students joined the group and began gathering signatures across campus.
The We Decide website cites that on Dec. 16, 2014 “Utah County Commissioners chose to ignore their own County staff warnings to not rezone a section of mountainside land in North Utah County and allowed certain protected property to be rezoned from Critical Environment to residentially zoned.”
Mountainside near the rezoned section is scorched from a fire that took place in 2012 as well as landslide damage from heavy rain in 2013.
“The county set a terrible precedent when they rezoned the land from critical environment,” says Kellen Pead, a UVU student involved with We Decide. “People in the county cared about the mountains, and believed that the mountains should be left alone.”
But from the developer’s side of the issue, We Decide seems to be infringing on their constitutional rights as property owners.
“This has been family property for over twenty years,” said Bobby Patterson, owner of Patterson Homes LLC. “It’s frustrating to have people who do not own or pay property taxes try to decide what you are able to do with your land.”
The Library of Economics and Liberty says that a “property right is the exclusive authority to determine how a resource is used.” In this situation it would mean the owners of the land should rightfully have the ultimate say in what is done with their property.
The developers have been unable to build in the area because of the critical environment zoning. With that now rezoned, they are taking advantage of a chance to move forward with plans that have been in place for years. The property encompasses 100 acres, 30 of which are designated for residential and the remaining 70 is in Critical Environment 2.
The Forest Service owns the adjoining property to the east and north up the rest of the mountain.
According to Utah State law, petitions need to collect signatures within 45 days to qualify for a referendum. We Decide was not able to gather enough signatures in time.
Though they may not have accomplished exactly what they set out to do, We Decide has raised questions they may or may not have originally intended.