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An interview with John Coltharp,

reveals he thinks he will be martyred

like Joseph Smith, for his beliefs

 

By James Tilson

Staff writer

8-16-2019

 

MANTI—Before he left the Sanpete County Jail to go to prison last week, John Coltharp agreed to an interview in order, he said, to clear up inaccuracies in the way he had been portrayed in the media.

The first inaccuracy he wanted to clear up was that his order was not a “doomsday” cult. “The Knights of the Crystal Blade was a fraternal order,” he said. “It was basically a way to be organized in whatever it is we decided to do, because we felt that the church in Utah, the LDS church, was falling short on certain things that were its responsibility to do. We believed we were led by revelation, and by spirit, by good principals as we went.”

However, on further questioning, Coltharp continued to fall back on language referring to the end of time and the destruction of present-day society.

“We’re living in a time when gross darkness covers the Earth and all flesh is corrupt,” he said. “The whole world is going to suffer destruction, because the majority of people fight against Zion, they fight against the laws of God.

“Isiah says the Earth is destined to burn, and few men are left. Many are called, but few are chosen. We will be gathered out from the midst of the terrors. I look at the way society is today, there is an all-out war against sanity. I look at the promotion of transgenderism, homosexuality, all these people praising weird, disgusting things.”

Coltharp repeated what he had said at his sentencing hearing that he doesn’t believe he will serve to the end of his prison sentence.

“I don’t think the present structure of society is going to survive the duration of my sentence,” he said. “I know the Lord has promised me and has shown me certain things I will do in the future that obviously necessitate me not being in here. [But] I don’t plan on escaping and having the U.S. Marshalls go looking for me.”

When asked to describe his beliefs, he said he was following Joseph Smith, but picking up where he left off and moving forward based on personal revelations. “I believe the work [Joseph Smith] did was good, inspired, and I believe I have been called to pick up where he let off.”

“I believe Joseph Smith is what he claimed to be. I believe the Book of Mormon and the (Doctrine and) Covenants. I believe in the restoration. And I believe that because the Saints did not live up to all the commandments they were given, the Lord allowed them to be driven from place to place.”

But, he was quick to add, his version of God’s message did not derive from other sources, but from his own “revelations” and “visions.”

“Those things came to me so powerful, in experiences, including experiences in this jail, that when I say now I know ‘perfectly,’ I know perfectly. I’ve pierced the veil several times; I’ve spoken to God. I don’t have doubt anymore.”

Since his actions were dictated by revelations, he said he did not think that he had done anything wrong by the child victims.

“Based on the research I had done, I knew that in ancient time, the marriage consisted of two or three stages, depending on which period of time you’re talking about,” he explained. “The first part was just a promise of a future relationship, from the father to another man with regard to the daughter.

“The next step was a formal ceremony, where we married each other’s daughters, and they consented to it. The third stage of marriage was sexual consummation. We did receive revelation that it was not only appropriate, but ideal to a certain extent to have some degree of physical affection with the person.”

When asked if he thought that having sexual relations with so young a child might be seen as abusive, Coltharp replied, “I think that taking a child and abusing that person, not loving them, doing it outside a celestial marriage outside God’s laws, could be abusive.”

When told others had described him as “manipulative and controlling,” he said, “I tell people the truth. I show people what the facts are, and some people absolutely hate that. And they feel like they are manipulated because they can’t sit on the fence anymore. They’re compelled by the force of reason, by the force of evidence, to take a hard proposition on something now, because now they know what the facts are.”

He was asked if he was afraid of what might happen to him in prison. “

“I’m aware of the danger,” he said, “but when I went down this road a long time ago I was prepared to face whatever consequences there are. I believe I will probably be killed for what I believe; that’s a pretty likely scenario.”

The Coal Hollow Fire has jumped US 6 just west of the junction with Hwy 89 north of Sanpete County. As of Aug. 13, US 6 was closed for part of its length, but the closure was lifted on Aug. 16, with the speed limited to 45 mph.

 

Coal Hollow Fire has long road

ahead towards total containment

 

By James Tilson

Staff writer

8-16-2017

 

FAIRVIEW—The Coal Hollow Fire grew over last weekend, as thunderstorms provoked a spike in activity and the fire jumped US 6 just west of the junction with Hwy 89.

The Coal Hollow Fire started on August 4, due to lighting strike. It soon became aggressive and fast moving in steep terrain. As of August 16, the fire had grown to 26,380 acres with 14 percent containment. No containment lines have been lost, however, and with calmer weather and cloud cover on Wednesday fire containment continued.

On Sunday afternoon, thunderstorms caused a spike in activity, with high winds pushing the fire on its north edge near US 6. With the fire jumping the highway, US 6 was closed on Monday through Wednesday, but was then re-opened on Thursday with speed limited to 45 mph.

After the change of weather on Wednesday, firefighters on the north edge of the fire were able to continue working on containing the fire. Firefighters on the southern edge reported minimal growth, and were able to re-inforce existing lines.

David Vining, operations section chief with the U.S. Forest Service, explained to the audience at the community meeting at North Sanpete High School on August 9, “We have to identify the values at risk. When we talk about values at risk, we’re talking a lot about this Highway 6 corridor… It’s a main highway corridor. There are power lines that feed six towns. There are railroad tracks that are used about up to six times a day. There are houses in there. There’s a lot going on in that corridor there.”

The areas to the east and northwest of the fire were the most active. Fire crews had built a fire line around where the fire had jumped US 6, and are hopeful that US 6 will continue to hold as a border for most of the north edge of the fire.

On the east flank, the fire is coming up to Starvation Road, which firefighter hope to use as a containment line. There was little growth reported on the south side of the fire.

Cody Harmar, councilman at Spring City and a fireman himself, has been in close contact with the Spring City crew that has been working on the Coal Hollow Fire. He said that the messages from the crew indicate the crew is happy to be working the fire, and “They’re kicking butt up there.”

Vining echoed those sentiments. “We’ve been really lucky for the support Type 2 team we’ve received in both the Hilltop and Coal Hollow Fires from Utah County and from Sanpete County volunteers. ‘You guys are really, really lucky. So if you see a volunteer out there, or a county sheriff, or an equipment operator, be sure to say, ‘Thanks.’”

Harmar said the Spring City crew was working on the south side of the fire, and he noted that forest fires often burn slower on the downhill side of a slope. At the same time, conditions can change rapidly, and crews must be alert.

Harmar, noting that the fire picked up activity during weekend thunderstorms, do not wish for storms, but rather calm weather. “Thunderstorms bring high winds and lighting, neither of which firefighters want. We’d rather have calm conditions so that we can finish our jobs.”

Vining warned that Coal Hollow was not going to be cured right away. “Moving forward, Coal Hollow is going to be a fairly long duration event for you guys. It’s not going to be put out in the next three days, seven days, maybe even two weeks. So just prepare yourselves for that.”

Spring City has sent one truck, with three to five people to work the fire. Harmar notes that resources throughout the West have been stretched thin, because of the many fires going on all over.

The Coal Hollow Fire has 729 total personnel, with 37 engines, 4 dozers, 7 water tenders, 6 helicopters and 2 fixed wing air tankers.

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John Coltharp, with his attorney Paul Frischknect, listen as Judge Marvin Bagley prounounces Coltharp’s sentence of 1-15 years for child bigamy to be followed by a sentence of 25 years to life for sodomy to a child.

 

Coltharp sentenced to 26years-to-life,

claims divine revelation for acts

 

By James Tilson

Staff writer

8-16-2018

 

MANTI—John Coltharp, the Spring City man whose children were rescued from a religiously oriented camp in Iron County, was sentenced to prison for 26 years to life last week  while proclaiming himself to be Elijah, the Old Testament prophet, in open court.

John Coltharp, 34, pleaded guilty on May 2 to one count of sodomy on a child, a first-degree felony, and child bigamy, a second-degree felony, for sex crimes on his “child bride.”   In a plea agreement, charges of child kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony, were dismissed.

The main question before Judge Marvin Bagley at the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Aug. 8, was whether sentences for the two counts were to run concurrently or consecutively.

Coltharp’s charges arose from his belief in “child marriage” and what he claimed were  personal revelations from God.

In late 2016, Coltharp and his co-defendant Samuel Shaffer founded the Knights of the Crystal Blade. Coltharp claims the order is not an off-shoot from the LDS church, but does follow some of the teachings of Joseph Smith and other religious texts.

In December 2017, after his estranged wife had won a divorce decree and custody of the couple’s children, police began looking for Coltharp and the children. Coltharp was arrested in Spring City but refused to reveal where his four children were.

After Sanpete County detectives figured out that the Knights of the Crystal Blade were headquartered in a remote part of Iron County and an Amber alert was issued, the children were found in unheated portable storage buildings.

Further investigation found Cotharp and Shaffer had “married” each other’s elementary-age daughters in accordance with their unconventional religious beliefs.

Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels addressed Judge Bagley first during the hearing.  “I do want to preface this,” he said, “by stating that this is the type of case I wish that the Legislature empowered me to seek the death penalty.”

Daniels supported his statement by referencing the level of damage to the victims, the number of victims, and the fact that the victims “will be dealing with this for the rest of their lives.”

Daniels said he had met with Coltharp on more than one occasion and had been able to communicate with him in a very respectful manner. However, he said, “We fundamentally disagree on life philosophies.”

Specifically, Coltharp continued to defend his practice of “child marriage.” Daniels read from the presentence report that Coltharp had told the investigator how much marriage meant to him.

“It is a vital part of my religion,” he told the presentence investigator according to the report. “My marriage and subsequent relations were not sinful. To suggest so would be to dishonor the name of Joseph Smith and every other prophet that lived these ancient laws of God.”

While Daniels read from the report, Coltharp could be seen nodding in enthusiastic agreement the descriptions of his beliefs.

And then Daniels told the judge, “If he is contending the government is waging a war on his beliefs, then sign me up as a general in that battle.”

Daniels made other arguments as to why Coltharp should receive consecutive sentences. The county attorney said Coltharp would never follow the law, and would re-offend if released.

He said Coltharp’s crimes caused long-lasting trauma to the child victims and a financial burden to those now raising the children. The crimes exhibited extreme depravity and cruelty, and were committed over a long period of time. And Coltharp committed the crimes while in a position of trust with the victims.

Daniels then read into the record a letter from foster parents of the Shaffer children, whom Coltharp had taken as his “child brides” describing the after-effects of Coltharp’s actions. The children have trouble eating, cannot speak up to their age group, have difficulty with balance and have many misunderstandings of personal relationships.

The letter also described how the children talk about their “marriages” and the fact that Coltharp engaged in sexual conduct with them.

It ended by saying the children have been in therapy since they arrived with the foster parents but the full realization of their trauma will not occur until they have reached adulthood, and find out their childhood was taken from them.

The presentence report also contained a letter from Coltharp’s ex-wife. She told about the trauma her daughter had faced by being the child bride of Samuel Shaffer. When her daughter came back to her, her daughter was terrified to talk about what happened.

But when she finally did, she confirmed Shaffer had engaged in sexual practices with her. “This was something all the other children confirmed they had seen firsthand,” the ex-wife’s letter said.

In the letter, Coltharp’s ex-wife told the judge why she could not attend the sentencing. “I know I would not be able to restrain myself from hurting the man who hurt my babies.”

The maternal grandfather of the Coltharp children, Steve Soble, who was in court, said he was glad the case had been resolved short of trial so that the children avoided being re-traumatized by testifying against their father. But at the same time, he said, “I’m frustrated that not all of his behavior can be addressed.

“He’s a predator. He preyed on my daughter when she was a teenager. He preyed on these children.”

And then he told the judge what his grandchildren asked him to tell the court at the sentencing, statements such as, “He’s a big fat idiot” and “I hate him so much.” Other reported comments from the children were, “You’re such a piece of poop” and “a really rude person, a fat bubble-butt.”

When it came time for Frischknecht, Coltharp’s attorney, to speak, he seemed at a loss for words, “What can I say, your honor?” he said.

After expressing his sympathy to the victims, and telling the judge that there would not be much difference between concurrent and consecutive sentences, he turned over the podium to his client.

Coltharp, after thanking Daniels and the Adult Probation and Parole for accurately relating his religious views, told the judge, “I know that my religious views are not shared by society, and that puts me in the minority. But that’s exactly where God’s chosen few have always found themselves, in the minority.”

Coltharp argued to the judge that society was, in fact, “going down the wrong road,” and his religious views were the result of “visions, revelations and speaking with God.”

“My marriage was the right thing to do. If Joseph Smith were here today, he’d probably be a sex offender for the things he did, including under-age marriage,” he said.

Coltharp said when he was with his “child brides,” they were happy and that any trauma suffered by them did not occur until the state intervened in his family.

Then Coltharp told the judge he had something to say that God had asked him to say. “Changes are coming. This government will be overthrown. I am Jacob, in the Old Testament. Also Elijah, and the Apostle John. I am here before the Second Coming to set an example with regard to marriage, and to teach the keys of the gospel, and to warn the people, especially of this state, to repent before that destruction is coming.”

Judge Bagley did not take much time to consider his options. He told Coltharp that the only real issue is whether his two counts should be concurrent or consecutive. Bagley asked Coltharp why it should be one or the other. Coltharp replied, “It doesn’t matter to me, I don’t think society will last that long.”

Judge Bagley then announced, “I don’t believe any scripture condones sexual relations between an adult and a 7-year-old.”

For that reason, the life-long trauma to the children, the nature of the offenses, and the fact that it was Coltharp’s and Shaffer’s daughters that were the victims, Bagley sentenced Coltharp to consecutive terms in prison, for 1-15 years, and 25-to-life.

Afterward, Soble said, even though Coltharp’s religious beliefs surprised them somewhat, “from the beginning, he’s been very controlling, very manipulative. He’s always felt himself to be important, more important and smarter than everyone else.”

Daniels called the sentencing “a bizarre event. It was expected, however.”

Daniels said the Knights of the Crystal Blade were effectively disbanded. “I would say with their prophet and their second-in-command serving time in prison for life, it is safe to say the head of the snake is removed.”

However, another member of the cult is still facing felony charges—and new charges will be filed against Coltharp’s parents.

Robert Rowe faces charges of sodomy on a child, a first-degree felony. Keith and Cathy Coltharp will be facing obstruction of justice charges, a Class A misdemeanor, for their part in covering up evidence during the investigation.

“They were indeed members of the Knights,” Daniels said. “They were not, however, involved in the sexual abuse or the sexual activities. They could be facing a lot more serious charges, but because of the nature of their cooperation, they will face much less serious charges.”

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A BAe-146 Tanker drops fire retardant to slow the spread of the Crooked Creek Fire burning north of Fairview near Milburn.

Milburn residents express faith in

firefighters as blaze consumes forest

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

7/26/2018

            MILBURN— Despite pre-evacuation orders on a number of nearby structures, Luann Greenwell of Milburn sat on her front porch watching the mountains burn. She didn’t seem worried because firefighting crews have succeeded in pushing back the fire.

            According to information released by the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office at the onset of the Crooked Creek Fire, a pre-evacuation order on Friday was issued for more than 20 structures, including those in Dry Creek and Tucker Flats.

            Although not much stands between the fire and her home besides plenty of fuel and one paved road, Greenwell was smiling and relaxed.

            “The fire crews are on the ball,” Greenwell said. “They’ve really been hustling and I want to give credit where credit is due. I am not worried at all.”

            The fire ignited on Wednesday, July 18 from lightning in the Crooked Creek mountains in the Manti-La Sal National Forest, east of Milburn and north of Fairview.

            From the beginning, fire crews have worked to fully suppress the fire. As of Saturday, the fire had grown to more than 150 acres, according to Leann Fox, of Utahfireinfobox.com, the state website that releases up to date information on wildfires in Utah.

            Fox said Friday’s cloud cover and cool weather with temperatures in the low 80s gave firefighters an advantage in fighting the fire.

However, she also said the fire is burning in mixed conifer with down and dead timber, and large standing timber, which generates extreme heat and is resistant to cooler, more humid weather.

Aircraft dropping water and retardant were important to holding the fire and helping firefighters as they worked on the ground, she said. The fire was most active on the northeast flank of the mountains.

According to Rosann Fillmore, public affairs specialist with the Forest Service, as of Monday, the fire was burning on 137 acres and 182 personnel were fighting against its spread—with three engines, three HotShot Crews, three initial attack crews, three helicopters, one airplane dropping retardant and a water tender.

“Although fire line has been built around the perimeter, heavy fuel, snags and rolling logs are keeping the fire hot and pose a risk for spread,” Fillmore said.  “Natural fire behavior helped to secure the fire on the southeast edge where there are fingers of fire and steep terrain. Crews have been securing the line by taking down snags and turning over burning logs.”

Dead and downed timber continues to burn in numerous individual spots, so firefighters were working to get spots contained, Fillmore said. Rain has not helped fire burning in heavy logs. Firefighters will continue work to improve and secure lines.

The Manti-La Sal National Forest has issued an order closing the fire area: Forest Roads 138, 1178, 1048, 1049; Forest Trail 0053 from the Forest Boundary to the junction with Forest Road 0138; Forest Trail 048 from the Forest Boundary to the junction with Forest Road 1178.

The closure is in place to prevent potential injury to the public and firefighter safety during fire operations. You can read the order at: https://go.usa.gov/xUn98.

“Everyone attending holiday celebrations and families recreating in the area of Fairview, Milburn and Fairview Canyon need to be aware of increased fire traffic,” Fox said. “Travel cautiously throughout the area.”

Although three structures further up the mountain have been given evacuation orders, Greenwell said she expects everything to turn out okay for her, and she “doubts she’s going anywhere with as hard as the fire crews are working.”

Spring City sets hearing on

big hike in property tax

 

James Tilson

Staff writer

7/26/2018

            SPRING CITY—Spring City is proposing to double its municipal property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year.

A Truth-in-Taxation notice published in this week’s and last week’s Sanpete Messenger says the proposed increase would raise the revenue yield from property tax in the coming fiscal year by 105.72 percent over revenue for the last fiscal year.

A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 2 at 6:30 p.m. in the council room in the Spring City Old School Community Center.

Mayor Jack Monnett said of the increase, “It’s vital.” Monnett called it part of an effort to make needed improvements and repairs to the city’s infrastructure. “We knew we had to do it,” he said. “Infrastructure costs money.”

The notice gives two examples of how the tax increase would impact a hypothetical resident or business. On a $180,000 residence, the Spring City charge on the home owner’s property tax bill would increase from $88.31 to $181.67, an increase of $93.36.

For a business property valued at $180,000, the property tax increase would go from $160.56 to $330.30, an increase of $169.74.

On June 14, the city council tentatively approved the new property tax rate as part of the city budget, although the new rate cannot go into effect until after a public hearing and final adoption.

The proposed certified rate was raised from .000917 last year to .001850, which is similar to the rates charged by Fountain Green and Fairview, but lower than the rate in every other municipality in the county except in Wales.

Monnett said Spring City’s rates, not just for property taxes but also for utilities, have been lower than most everyone else in the county.

“We were falling so far behind everyone else as far as revenue. We’ve kept (taxes) low, but it finally hit us in the face. If we keep doing this, we won’t be a city much longer.”

Councilman Tom Brunner said, “Nobody likes taxes or higher utilities, but we did what we needed to do to make sure the city provided the necessary services and balance the budget.”

Even though the revenue that would potentially be gained is a big jump, lower income households should feel less impact than households with higher incomes, the mayor said.

Property tax is based on the value of a house, so the owner of a house with a low assessed  value will pay a lot less than the owner of a $180,000 house. Utility rates are tied to consumption, so a household using relatively little water will pay less than a high-consuming household.

Utah Heritage Credit Union eager to

show off Ephraim branch

 

Suzanne Dean

Publisher

7/26/2018

            EPHRAIM—Utah Heritage Credit Union will hold a grand opening on Tuesday, July 31 for its new Ephraim branch at 268 S. Main, including a ribbon cutting and free lunch for the community.

Prize drawings begin and 11:30 a.m., and everyone attending can receive a ticket, according to Greg Sterner, vice president of lending. The biggest prize will be a Camp Chef pellet grill

At noon, credit union officials will cut a ribbon signifying completion of the new branch. A lunch of pulled pork sandwiches will follow and continue until 1:30 p.m.

Credit union staff moved into the new building the first week of March. “But we wanted to hold off on the grand opening until the landscaping was in. Everything’s all finished now,” Sterner said.

The first step in creating the new branch was demolition of a one-time house where loan officers were located in April 2017. The lending functions moved into the banking branch next door.

Nearly a year later, the new building was sufficiently complete to enable both lending and banking staff to move in. The credit union started serving customers in the new facility. About one month later, the original branch office, also located in a one-time house, was torn down.

Completion of the new branch has enabled the credit union to centralize all lending, including auto, personal, construction, mortgage and business loans, Sterner said. Previously, some types of loans were handled at UHCU headquarters in Moroni.

“Combining banking operations and lending in one building is a big step forward,” Sterner says.

The most notable feature of the new building is tall windows on the east side that let in a lot of sunlight, Sterner says. The building also has a sizeable lobby with updated furniture.

Another feature, still being completed, is a room on the north side of the building near the teller stations. Eventually, it will have computers and I-pads patrons can use for electronic banking.

The building has five private offices on the main floor with finished space in the basement where more offices can be added in the future as the credit union grows.

Kevin McClung holds shotgun while he and Jamie Klaes talk beside airplane.

‘Mad Dog Made’ to air on Discovery

Channel featuring local inventor

 

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

7/26/2018

EPHRAIM—The Discovery Channel is shooting a reality TV series in Sanpete County based on the life of “mad” scientist who builds outrageous weapons and tools with the help of his daughter and his master apprentice.

“Mad Dog Made” is a show based based on the skills and training of renowned military weapons designer, engineer and combat consultant, Kevin “Mad Dog” McClung, formerly of Prescott, now living in Manti.

The series, which so far has been entirely filmed in Ephraim, will debut on the Discovery Channel on Friday, Aug. 3 at 10 p.m., and will show McClung and his team fabricating cutting-edge handheld weapons and tools—one example of which is a super long-range rifle meant to shoot down weapons of mass destruction.

McClung will be assisted by former Marine and weapons expert, Jacob Sanchez and McClung’s own daughter, Morgan Fey McClung—who was named after King Arthur’s evil sister because her father said he “saw a dark streak in her” when she was born.

“Morgan is so funny,” McClung said. “She’s quick-witted and such a quick learner. She brings a lot to the show.”

McClung is a former senior scientist at the American Rocket Company. He is also an experienced outdoorsman, combat trainer and weapons and combat consultant. His two teammates add more than 15 years of experience in fields like blacksmithing, computer-aided-design, carpentry and aerospace mechanics.

McClung said the idea grew to life after Lionsgate Productions saw a video of what McClung and his team likes to do—fabricate outrageous weapons and tools. The studio was wowed and quickly sent a film crew to Ephraim.

“I’ve been working in Hollywood as a consultant for a long time,” McClung said. “I have never seen something get greenlighted so fast.”

The debut episode will show McClung and his team using their combined talents to create their own spin on the life-saving tool used by first responders known as the “Jaws of Life.”

The team will be tasked with creating a tool capable of rescuing an automobile accident victim within three minutes.

Later in the season, the team will also be tasked with building tools capable for use in space and will create a protective shelter for crashed bush pilots who are being stalked by wild animals.

The series is produced by Rogue Atlas in Association with Lionsgate Television.

Manti City considering annexation

that would add 438 acres to city

 

James Tilson

Staff writer

7/26/2018

The Manti City Council is proposing annexation of 438 acres on the north and east side of the city. The area to be annexed (in white) stretches from north of the cemetery, to north and east of Temple Hill, and takes in a swatch along the city’s eastern edge going south to approximately 300 South. The city’s buffer zone is in orange.

            MANTI—Local citizens voiced concerns over property taxes and zoning for a new annexation proposed by Manti City at last week’s council meeting.

            Manti proposed an annexation of 438.37 acres of land on the north and east sides of the city, stretching from north of the cemetery and Temple Hill and going around the eastern edge of Manti to approximately 300 South.

            Prior to the regular council meeting, citizens were invited to voice their opinions at a public hearing on the annexation. Prior to the hearing, Mayor Kory Soper read a statement to the audience.

            In part, it said, “There have been some concerns raised that the city may have to pay for street and utility infrastructure for the proposed annexation area. That is not the case. It is the policy of the city that private development pays for its own street and utility infrastructure, which must comply with city standards. Once new infrastructure is placed to the city’s satisfaction, the city assumes ownership and maintenance of those streets and utilities.”

            However, other concerns were raised by the audience. Linda Nielson, local business owner and real estate broker, said she was “not opposed, but I think this annexation is premature,” and “the zoning of the annexed properties be clearly identified.” Nielson believes the annexation will have minimal positive impact on the city’s residents as a whole, versus the greater positive impact for the annexed property owners and the city government.

            According to Nielson, 25 percent of the city is exempt from property tax. She said 50 percent of the annexed property would be exempt, and the other 50 percent would be zoned “greenbelt” (which taxes the property at a lower agricultural rate). Nielson requested an accounting of the financial impact of the annexation on the city.

            Steve Allred, property owner, asked the council when the zoning for the new annexation would be settled. The concern is that the zoning is currently unknown, and there is sentiment to expand the city’s commercial/business zones along U.S. 89 in the annexation area. Mayor Soper told Allred the planning commission would consider the issue at its next meeting on August 7.

            Kris Jorgenson, a landowner within the annexation area, stood to voice his approval. “Cities grow, or they die,” was his sentiment. Jorgenson said the city needs areas for single family homes, and the area would eventually be part of the city anyway. Annexing the property sooner would lead to better planning.

            The council tabled the annexation until the council next meeting, in order to consider all the comments by the public.

            Wes Alexander, with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), presented a proposal from the DWR for a new deer control program. In response to deer problems “all along the Wasatch Front,” the DWR has instituted a “lethal removal” programs for cities up and down the Wasatch Range.

            According to Alexander, to qualify for the program a city would have to enact a no feeding of deer/elk/moose ordinance, show the damage that deer had done in the city and carry a $1 million liability insurance policy. Having done that, the city would apply to the state for a Certificate of Registry (COR) to begin the removal.

            The city would then contract with someone to carry out the program, which would include hunting the deer from an elevated stand within the city limits, luring the deer to the stand with feed and shooting them with a crossbow. The hunting would occur from Aug. 1 through Dec. 15.

            The only costs to the city would be the insurance policy, the contract with the hunter and the cost of deer disposal.

            Alexander informed the council that although several other Utah cities had begun using the program, only Herriman had been using the program for any amount of time. However, Herriman had reported a dramatic drop in vehicle impacts with deer while using the program.

            The council did not take action on the presentation, and said it would consider the information.

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