Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Arizona Land Baron Dean Sellers Goes Back To The Utah Supreme Court To Force His Town Of "Aspen" On Wasatch County

Those of you who complain about Chris Buttars' lack of sensitivity haven't met Dean Sellers (pictured at left). Sellers makes Buttars look like Mister Rogers. Despite all the hate he's stirred up against him in Wasatch County, he's bound and determined to ramrod his proposed town of "Aspen" through. Click HERE to read all previous posts on this issue if you're not familiar with it.

And, according to the Deseret Morning News and the Salt Lake Tribune, he's going back to the Utah Supreme Court to try it again. On Friday, February 22nd, 2008, Dean Sellers refiled two writs in the Utah Supreme Court on grounds that his opponents, the town of Daniel and Wasatch County, admitted an error. The filing refers to a February 12th letter sent by Daniel's attorney to the court. It corrected a mistake that showed a 6-foot strip of land between the town and annexation area. The strip did not in fact exist, according to Daniel Mayor Mike Duggin.

The annexation documents were certified by Utah's Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert's certification of them February 12th. A week later, a partial court panel speaking for the Supreme Court denied Sellers' two writs and all attached briefs, claiming that Sellers hadn't proved that his case should bypass the district courts. Sellers believes that in light of the evidence of error, the entire court should reconsider the case.

The successful annexation halted Sellers' plans to build his town, which would have been a high-end skiing, shopping and recreation spot in the rural heart of Wasatch County. Sellers' plan was based on a controversial 2007 law, HB466, which allowed single property owners to create towns without a consent of a majority of the new town residents. That law will likely be amended soon to allow for a voting process, either by HB164 or by SB25. Neither one is likely to be retroactive.

The Storm Haven petition and a petition for incorporation of Aspen were filed November 8th, 2007, within hours of each other. The annexation petition was filed first, so the incorporation documents were denied, according to Supreme Court briefs. Sellers insists that the annexation documents should have been denied based on the 6-foot error.

The dispute revolves around interpretation. The town of Daniel states that the error was clerical in nature, and so it's a correction rather than a modification. A correction keeps the existing petition in force. The town has case law on its side.

However, Sellers claims the revised petition correcting the error constitutes a modification, and should be treated as a new petition. According to Utah law, if modifications are made to annexation petitions, they must be refiled. Therefore, if Sellers' interpretation is accepted, then Sellers' incorporation petition becomes the earlier petition and should be allowed to proceed.

Commentary: Hopefully the Utah Supreme Court will accept Daniels interpretation. The intent of the city of Daniels was to correct the original Storm Haven petition to reflect the fact that a six-foot strip was mistakenly included. It should not be treated as a modification. It's pure legalism, but Sellers is determined to milk the system of every last drop.

And Sellers' arrogance is astounding. If he wins, what type of relationship will he have with locals? Most of them will hate his guts. Does he not care about this?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The annexation petition to the Town of Daniel was never "revised". The small correction made to the legal description can hardly be called a "modification" of the petition. It is a common enough thing to do in the final stages of an annexation. The Utah Supreme Court ruled all petitions by the West Daniel Land Association moot in this lawsuit as the WDLA did not adequately demonstrate that it would be impractical or inappropriate to file the complaint in the district court. This ruling was released after the disclosure of the legal description correction was submitted to the Supreme Court, and Sellers has arrogantly decided that the Supreme Court must not have understood how important this is to him and has asked for the entire Supreme Court to review all the documentation provided to the court. We must await the Court's response.