We Decide PAC at UVU supports a referendum in Utah to protect mountain zones
In December of 2014, three Utah Valley University students and their legal counsel formed the We Decide Political Action Committee. They did so in response to a zoning change passed by the Utah County Planning Commission to change a piece of historically protected critically environmental land to housing development. Their goal was to prevent the development by getting the zoning change on the ballot for the 2016 general elections in a referendum vote.
These students did not believe that the majority of Utah County Citizens wanted to see more houses built farther up the mountainside on environmentally protected lands. Recent fires and landslides in the area have cost the local taxpayers millions of dollars, and what used to be responsible developmental planning has turned into a system of government officials bowing to pressure from powerful residential developers.
The tool of referendum allows people like these three UVU student to take a stand when they believe their elected officials have failed to act responsibly and represent the wishes of their constituents. Our mountains are a prized and necessarily protected piece of Utah’s heritage. Too often we have seen trails, parks, natural wonders, and critical habitats closed to public access by housing development. Residential development in zones like these must be done with careful planning, considering all the unique circumstances that come with a mountain environment.
We Decide has mustered a force of over 150 volunteers and 200 employees, with funding coming from concerned Utah County Citizens all over the valley. They are currently working to gather support to protect our critically environmental zones across the state.
Aaron Butler, Kellen Pead, and Andrew McGowen, UVU Students, Board Directors of We Decide PAC
Dear Utah County Residents,
Two weeks ago the Utah County Commission made a decision against their staff’s recommendation to approve a zoning change in Northern Utah County. This change would allow development on what has historically been protected land. Prior to this break with precedent, the area had been preserved in order to protect and conserve the water supply, vegetation, soils, wildlife, and other natural resources within the watershed.
We Decide is an effort to let the people of Utah County decide what happens to our mountains. We do not believe that most of Utah Counties citizens want more houses built near recent mudslides and wildland fires. Millions of dollars in damage and repairs from recent fires and floods came at taxpayer expense. We propose putting this issue into the hands of the people by voting on it in the next elections. In order to get this issue on the ballot, we need to gather 20,000 signatures by January 30, 2015 from registered voters in Utah County. We are making history in this effort, once completed, it will be the first ever successful Utah County referendum.
For 20 years I have fought hard to maintain this protected area. The land provides a buffer zone that keeps residences away from potential hazards like landslides and fires, and allows for wildlife like deer to avoid denser neighborhoods and streets. We have seen the damage that landslides can cause in North Salt Lake and the Cedar Hills area. It is my firm belief that further development in this area is irresponsible and completely disregards the wishes of Utah County citizens. Changing the zone would also create a future precedent for building even higher up the mountainside across Utah County.This sudden decision to allow for development in a historically protected area is a departure from responsible planning and does not represent what the people of Utah County want.
We Decide will be sending circulators with petitions to all areas in Utah County, we encourage you to exercise your right to vote by signing when they come your way.
For those who would like to sign the petition immediately, volunteer, or find more information, please contact us on our facebook page: We Decide Utah.
Don Watkins, Mayor Alpine City
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