Emery County drops lawsuit on roads in Swell
During the Dec. 8 commission meeting a decision was made to dismiss without prejudice the lawsuit entitled the state of Utah vs. United States of America. This was done at the recommendation of the public lands director, Ray Petersen with the advice of the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office.
Commissioner Gary Kofford said the county has been involved in a law suit in conjunction with the State Attorney General's Office. Emery County filed a legal motion on 12 roads in the San Rafael Swell trying to get RS-2477 title to these roads. It was determined to go to court on seven of these roads. It has gotten to the point by Dec. 18, the county had to give the courts all the information on the roads. Affidavits and statements had been gathered, but the AGs office viewed the case as weak. Some of the people who submitted statements have since passed away and will be unable to testify. The attorneys feel they have no case to present. So the county has decided to back down from the lawsuit. The wording allows the county to go back and resume the fight if additional information becomes available.
Petersen said it is his recommendation as public lands director in conjunction with the county attorney David Blackwell to withdraw the lawsuit at this time.
Blackwell said there are other alternatives available to pursue title for these roads and it would be best to hold off at this time than to go forward with a weak case. The AGs office recently fought for Salt Wash in San Juan County and lost.
The question was raised of what would happen to the seven roads in question. Commissioner Kofford said the county will continue to push for them and to pursue other alternatives. They have been in close contact with USA-ALL and asked them to help with the documentation of these roads and affidavits to that affect. In order to be considered for RS-2477 status a road must be in existence and used for 10 continuous years prior to 1976.
Petersen said the county's case on the roads was considered weak. In Salt Wash they had six strong affidavits and still lost.
Petersen said the portions of the roads in question that are now open will remain open. The portions of the roads that are closed now will remain closed.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks said on some of the roads there are no living witnesses. "It is better to step back and make a better case than to go to court and lose."
Petersen said with the evidence they have they cannot proceed. He encouraged anyone with history and information on these roads to come forward and help with documenting these roads. Roads include: Mexican Mountain, Sids Leap, Red Hole Draw, Junes Bottom, Copper Globe, Segers and Links Flat.
Commissioner Kofford pointed out some of these roads are on the BLM system. Part of the Mexican Mountain road is open and part of the Sids Leap road is open. "If anyone can provide information on these roads, then please come forward," said Commissioner Kofford.
In other business the commissioners discussed the Liberty National Insurance Company which wants to offer term life insurance policies to county employees through payroll deductions. It was determined that Mary Huntington, county personnel director would check with some other life insurance companies in the area and see what their rates are.
Huntington City requested a building fee waiver for a junction box they are installing in the city park. The commission considered a reduction in the fee for the landfill for Janet Lott who cleaned up a trailer court in Orangeville that she owns. This was last spring and several trips to the landfill were made at that time. The billing was made to a contractor. The commissioner reduced the bill from $1,400 to $500 because it was a benefit to Orangeville and the county to have the property cleaned up.
The commission will advertise for six positions available on the public lands council. Terms ending are for Sherrel Ward, Bruce Wilson, Mark Williams, Vernell Rowley and Priscilla Burton; Mike Olsen resigned his position and this position will be advertised for as well.
The county has advertised for a building inspector. Thirty applicants applied for the position as well as two companies, Sunrise Engineering and Intermountain.
Seven applicants will be interviewed on Dec. 11. The county is still deciding which direction to head with building inspection. One of the benefits with having a company is you have back-up help. Companies can respond in a timely manner, because once a call is made that a building inspector is needed, the inspector has 24 hours to respond. In the past, Emery County has had troubles when the inspector became too busy and not able to fit everything in due to a heavy workload and only one inspector. The commission will also make a decision in the future as to when building inspection fees will be raised. Commissioner Kofford explains, "About four years ago the cities and county adopted the fee schedule published in the 1987 Uniform Building Code guide lines. Prior to this the cities were separate from the county and doing their own thing. There were several different fee schedules that were being followed, each city and the county having their own. In 2005 the county picked up the building inspections for all of the cities in Emery County as well as continuing to do the county at large, this included Green River City. In doing this it was necessary to develop a uniform fee structure, thus using the Uniform Building Code guidelines. To some this was an increase and to others not necessarily an increase depending on what the respective city had been charging. The county is currently using the fee structure developed in 1987 by the Uniform Building Code and still using that guide line, while other cities and counties in the state have used that schedule, but uniformally increased their fee structure a few percentatge points each year to keep up with inflation. Emery County has not done that and the county is still at the base rate established By Uniform Building Code in 1987, adopted by Emery County and towns in the county in 2005."
In commission reports, Commissioner Laurie Pitchforth said they have been holding budget meetings. The Emery County Care and Rehab remodel is going well. They have broken through joining the old section and the new. They hope to be done by Christmas. "They are doing a great job and the patients aren't suffering. I also attended the public lands meeting," said Commissioner Pitchforth.
Commissioner Horrocks said he has worked with the budget meetings and the public lands council continues to work towards a land use bill. It is not a wilderness bill, but a land use bill involving all aspects of public land use and management.
He attended the Castle Country partners meeting. They reported that Utah was recently named the happiest state and they will promote that in future tourism advertising for the state. Utah is also the second most healthy state and the second best place in the United States to do business. Arches is the sixth most popular site to visit in the world. Tourism brought in $7.19 billion into the state last year.
On Feb. 23 will be the BLMs next oil and gas lease sale.
Commissioner Kofford said a county senior citizens Christmas party is slated for Dec. 9 at the Museum of the San Rafael. He attended a Millsite Dam meeting. It is still under study to see what to do there.
Commissioner Horrocks said the Green River Medical Center is going to undergo a remodel project. Mary Winters from the medical center extended her thanks to the commission for all their help.