The Arizona developer who wants to build the town of Aspen, Utah, in Wasatch County has asked the Utah Supreme Court to intervene on his behalf. Stories published December 18th, 2007 in the Deseret Morning News and the Salt Lake Tribune.
Dean Sellers' attorneys, Barney Gesas and Steven Clyde, filed a petition for an extraordinary writ in the nature of mandamus with the Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday morning December 18th. They are asking the court to hear oral arguments that Wasatch County Clerk/Auditor Brent Titcomb acted outside of his authority when he denied Sellers' petition to incorporate the town of Aspen. They claim the authority to reject a petition doesn't rest with the county clerk/auditor, but with the entire county council.
Titcomb denied Sellers' November 8th incorporation petition because a group of residents, whose property is included in the proposed boundaries for Aspen, had filed a petition earlier in the day to annex into the nearby town of Daniel. The annexation petition, known as the Storm Haven petition, includes residents in three subdivisions along U.S. Hwy 40 in Daniels Canyon: Storm Haven, Tammy Lane and Crazy Acres. This petition beat Sellers' Aspen petition by six hours.
Clyde is confident that Sellers' petition to incorporate would have been approved by the county council because it met all of the legal requirements of HB466, enacted in March 2007.
The law outlines specific requirements for land value and land size of the petition sponsors and a residential population between 100 and 1,000. A petition can be denied if there is a pending annexation petition, but Clyde contends the Storm Haven petition is deficient and should, itself, be rejected. What makes the Storm Haven petition such a diehard issue for Sellers is that without it, he would not have enough people within Aspen to incorporate it as a town. He could still use his existing land, but could only develop a ski resort at best.
And that's not good enough for him, because he has this utopian dream to create a "world-class" high-end town with mixed residential developments and a "world-class ski resort" (visit the Aspen-Utah.com website for Sellers' "presentation"). However, he could not answer how he would account for the residential needs of the lower-wage service workers which would keep his "Shangri-La" humming. He thinks that once he creates this town, he can then go "riding off into the sunset on a white horse". La-dee-da. Read all previous posts on this subject if you need more background.
The Daniel Town Council has accepted the Storm Haven petition for further review and could have a decision by early January. Clyde said litigation is possible if the Daniel Town Council ratifies and accepts the Storm Haven annexation.
Normally, attorneys file civil action at the district court level, but Clyde said he decided to go straight to the Utah Supreme Court because he can avoid the delays that accompany the trial system. In addition, 4th District Court Judge Derek Pullan is a former county attorney and would likely have to recuse himself from proceedings, creating more delays.
And if this appears heavy-handed, there's more. Dean Sellers is now employing economic warfare against Daniels to turn up the heat. After residents of the local area expressed objection to Sellers' plan, Sellers suddenly found reason to "question" the amount of water that the private Daniel Domestic Water Company, which supplies the town of Daniels, was drawing. This was documented in a December 9th Deseret News report.
First, Sellers' West Daniels Land Association sued the water company for what it called "trespassing, involving dumping refuse and other waste products on its property". Lynn Crisler, the president of Daniels Water, said he was shocked to find out Sellers is suing the water company, because he was under the impression he had an agreement with Sellers for use of that land. Crisler said the agreement was that Sellers' company would provide security to the area and the water company would maintain a quarter-mile section of road that West Daniels Land workers use.
But according to a news release from West Daniels Land, the water company should dispose of refuse at appropriate disposal facilities and that some of the waste may contain hazardous or toxic wastes. On December 7th, Clyde said that an environmental survey will be ordered and claimed the water company's staff had left gates open that allowed people to trespass on Sellers' land.
But while that action is still percolating, Sellers also appealed to the Utah Division of Water Rights to intervene. In a December 12th "notice of impending investigation," the Division notified the water company that it would examine claims made by Sellers that Daniel Domestic was drawing twice as much water as it is entitled to under law.
And in yet another twist, Daniel Mayor Mike Duggin said Town Clerk Mary Lou Hall certified the Storm Haven annexation petition late Tuesday afternoon. Daniel now must hold a public hearing before the Town Council can vote the proposal up or down.
I'm telling you, gentle readers - this Dean Sellers is a real SOB! Even if he wins, he loses. He will be the most hated man in the Wasatch Valley for years to come.