Editor’s note: The following guest opinion entails the Stansbury Park Incorporation issue that will appear on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot.
Stansbury Park residents suffer from a bad case of political laryngitis. Our voice is weak and takes a great amount of effort to be heard. Stansbury Park residents have the chance for a cure. Voting “yes” to become a city will result in a strong political voice for the community in the form of direct local representation.
Stansbury Park’s needs differ from other unincorporated areas. For example, consider your summer holiday celebrations. Because of our current form of county representation, we are lumped with all other unincorporated areas. State law decided unincorporated areas could light fireworks on July 4, but then banned fireworks on July 24. This decision was based on the needs of some areas of the state, but not particularly Stansbury Park. If Stansbury Park were a city, our local leaders could work with fire chiefs to determine what areas of the city are safe for fireworks based on actual local conditions.
Another example of differing needs is our ordinances. Ordinances are currently applied county-wide. We don’t get to choose them, and changing them requires permission from commissioners who do not reside in Stansbury Park. Remember the SHS Marching Band Noise Ordinance Crusade? Community members on both sides of the issue agreed that the process of trying to change or preserve the ordinances was ridiculously cumbersome. That would not have been the case if Stansbury Park were a city. City ordinances trump county ordinances. Tooele and Grantsville city voters who elect the commissioners don’t abide by the ordinances those commissioners control. Neither should we. Local representatives have a better understanding of our needs and would also live by the ordinances they pass. Becoming a city would give better access to altering ordinances to fit our changing needs.
Stansbury Park is growing without the strong voice of local leadership. Commissioners’ past zoning decisions have a direct impact on Stansbury Park residents paying the highest tax rate in the county. While commissioners control our unincorporated tax increases, they don’t have to pay those taxes. In June, Tooele County adopted an updated general plan. This plan guides future zoning. The steering committee for the plan had 15 members, only one of whom is a resident of Stansbury Park. Stansbury residents should be driving the general plan for Stansbury Park. Local representatives have direct buy-in to protecting and growing our tax base.
As a city, Stansbury Park would get a seat on the Tooele County Council of Governments. COG makes county growth decisions. It has oversight over roads and some tax revenue. If county mayors, including Ophir, with only 39 residents, have a voice on COG, then Stansbury Park, with over 9,000 residents, should definitely have representation on it.
Historically, Stansbury has had only one or two residents on the Tooele County Planning and Zoning Commission. As a city, only Stansbury Park residents will make zoning decisions for Stansbury Park. Why shouldn’t we have the same level of representation over our community that other areas in the county have over theirs? Becoming a city would give us the local leaders to provide greater representation.
Incorporation will allow new city elected officials to address critical issues facing our community, such as planning and zoning issues, funding for sports facilities, and negotiating with developers for parks and other amenities. Further, cities have access to numerous funding sources that unincorporated areas do not. The need of a city government is self-evident.
Stronger local representation is one of the many benefits Stansbury Park will have as a city. Cure our political laryngitis. Vote “yes” for Stansbury Park.
Michelle Ricks is a Stansbury Park resident and involved in the community. Stansbury Park residents Mike Johnson, who is a former three-term member of the Tooele City Council, and Jamie Lindsay, member of the Stansbury Park Service Agency, also contributed to this guest opinion in favor of Stansbury Park incorporation.