Saving Beaver County

The Utah Supreme Court issued an opinion yesterday in the case of Save Beaver County v. Beaver County, which confirmed the rights of the citizens of Beaver County to challenge, by referendum, the County’s approval of the proposed Mount Holly Club.

The Supreme Court opinion succinctly described the proposed Mount Holly Club:

As planned, Mt. Holly is a gated club with an 18-hole golf course, a private ski resort, and up to 1,204 residential units.

A private ski resort ?!?!?!

The proposed plan met with some opposition, but Beaver County proceeded to adopt an ordinance to the land code, and published its “Notice of Adoption of Ordinance” on May 12, 2007. That same day, twelve residents requested applications for referendum petitions. These petitions were filed, seeking a vote by the residents in the November 2008 election. 845 signatures were obtained; more than enough to support the referendum.

The opinion sets forth a lengthy analysis as to whether the County was acting administratively or legislatively, but ultimately held that the County’s action was legislative, thereby triggering the citizens’ right to a referendum, which the Court appears to consider rather important:

Because the power of the people to legislate directly through referenda is a constitutionally guaranteed right, it is the responsibility of this court to “defend it against encroachment and maintain it inviolate”.

Hence the voters will get to decide, in the end, whether Mount Holly Club will be allowed. (Although my strong suspicion is that the current economic conditions may have already doomed Mount Holly Club.)

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