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The mess that is annexation

July 17, 2020 by admin

You may recall that one of the issues that garnered a couple of different bills during this year’s legislative session was annexation.  These bills were prompted by different things.  One was about dealing with proposed annexations in an area that was under consideration for incorporation into a new city.  Another with the problem of trying to annex areas that were not directly adjacent to a municipality and the intervening properties did not want to be annexed.  And yet another with the bigger issue of urban development adjacent to existing municipal boundaries.  Then, during a couple of the special sessions following, a couple more annexation bills were considered and passed.


The whole issue of annexation has been a problem area in the Utah state code for a number of years, going all the way back to the fights in Salt Lake County over whether developed areas in the unincorporated county area should be allowed to be annexed, or be given some other status, which eventually led to the mess of “townships.”  The legislative battles waged over this in the 90’s resulted in some very disjointed bills being passed that in the end created one process of annexation for SL County, and one for everybody else.  And then there were the subsequent piecemeal amendments over the next several years…


Today’s strong growth environment and fights over “density” have led to more issues with annexation in the last year or two, and thus the bills from this last session.  All this has made it apparent that the process of annexation really does need a comprehensive review and recodification.  The League, through the Land Use Task Force, has put together a working group on annexation to look at short and long range issues on this topic.  That group met last week and started work, with the able support of Rep. Steve Waldrip of Weber County.


Well, another big issue story on this topic broke today, again pointing to the issues with this area of policy.  It just indicates again the need to deal with this issue on a more comprehensive level…


Wilf Sommerkorn, Co-Chair

APA Utah Legislative Committee


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