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Residents starting Mtn. Green incorporation efforts

Article Date: 
7 March, 2014 (All day)

Although it may take years to accomplish the incorporation of Mountain Green as the second official city in Morgan County, several local residents are taking steps now to start the process.
“There has been much interest in incorporating Mountain Green,” said Raelene Blocker, a Mountain Green resident. 
Local Douglas M. Durbano is among another group of individuals looking into incorporating Mountain Green, although more “casually,” he said.
Blocker said she met a year ago with other residents; a couple of Morgan County Council members; Mel Brown, R-Coalville; and a representative of the League of Cities and Towns to explore the possibility of incorporating Mountain Green.
“In that meeting we discussed the pros and cons of incorporating,” Blocker said.  “The pros seemed to outweigh the cons.”
Benefits to incorporation include local control of government and zoning issues, developing a sense of community, and the ability to determine the level of services to provide the community, Blocker said.
Cons include creating another level of government, political costs and higher taxes, she said.
 “However, we all agreed that local government is best,” she said.
Blocker has planned an April 10 meeting to gather public input at the Mountain Green Fire Station at 7:30 p.m.  Plat maps with three different boundary options will be on display.  For a detailed rendition, please visit the newspaper website at http://morgannewspaper.com.
“I would like to get everyone’s opinion on which plat map they like best,” she said.  “I would also like to hear opinions and concerns on this subject and whether or not the majority of effected residents are in favor or opposed to incorporating.  Those in favor will be invited to sign the petition and donate money for the surveyed plat map.”
It could take as much as $15,000 to create a licensed surveyed map of the area in question.
Although Blocker has heard of past interest in incorporating Mountain Green, she said she is actually taking action on the idea “a step at a time.”
And there are many steps, according to state code.
One of the initial steps is securing the licensed, surveyed map of the area proposed for incorporation.  Blocker has identified three possible options for the area of incorporation and must narrow that down to one. 
Another is step is to collect by signatures of at least 10 percent of private land owners in the area.  Five signers should identify themselves as sponsors, with one as the contact sponsor. 
Once the map and signatures are collected, the sponsors must ask the Morgan County Council for a feasibility study.  The county clerk must certify or deny the request within 45 days and involve the planning commission.  If the clerk denies the request, the sponsors can change and/or correct the request and re-file.  If approved by the clerk, the county council has 60 days to engage a feasibility study.  The consultant conducting the study has must submit written results within 90 days.  The request sponsor can participate with the county in selecting the feasibility consultant.
The feasibility study must consider the population density of the area; demographic projections; economic base including household size and income, commercial and industrial development, and public facilities; projected growth; projections of the cost of government services in the proposed city including water, sewer, law enforcement, fire protection, roads, garbage, weeds, and government overhead; projected revenue based on current tax rates; projection of any new taxes; and fiscal impact on unincorporated areas. 
If five-year projected revenues exceed projected costs by more than 5 percent, the consultant must report that to the lieutenant governor and can make recommendation to change the boundaries of the proposed city “to make it work,” according to state code. 
At that point, the county council must hold two public hearings where the feasibility consultant will present results.
At that point, state code allows for one year for the collection of signatures on a petition to be filed with the county clerk.  The petition must be signed by 10 percent of all registered voters in the proposed city in 90 percent of the voting precincts.  The petition must also state the new city’s proposed name and give permission for the sponsors to select the number of new city council members and draw election district boundaries.
The county clerk must then certify the petition within 45 days.  The county council will then hold an election on the proposed incorporation.  “The proposal passes if a majority of those casting votes within the area boundaries of the proposed city vote to incorporate,” according to state code.
Blocker estimates the whole process could take two to three years.  But it is something she would like to see done for many reasons.
“Mountain Green has many children and youth.  We need more green space and a place for our children and families to gather and socialize,” said Blocker, who is PTSO president at Mountain Green Elementary School.  “All in all, I see many positive reasons to incorporate and improve Mountain Green.  I vision a better, safer, cleaner place for our children with local services that will help keep commuting down for our residents.”
She would also like to see a sidewalk or pedestrian trail along Old Highway Road.  Bike lanes for the many outdoor enthusiasts are also on her list.  She said having a small grocery store in town would cut down on the need to travel, thus reducing emissions and keeping the air clean.
As a volunteer fire fighter in Mountain Green, Blocker is concerned with the ambulance response time. 
“When there is an emergency here in Mountain Green we not only have to hope that there are volunteers available to respond, but we also have to wait at least 10 minutes for the ambulance to come from Morgan,” she said.  “Time saves lives and I have sadly seen lives lost.  It would be wonderful if we could have a full-time employed fire department and paramedics.”
Contact Blocker at incorporatemountaingreen@gmail.com.