BY CLIPPER STAFF
The past year proved busy in Davis County with issues surfacing from January through December and in between.
The top stories ranged from the tragic, with a murder of two young boys in May to outrage over three environmental issues and decisions made by two city councils.
Some of the biggest stories impacting Davis County had their roots in national and state issues — such as the shutdown of the federal government and gay marriage.
With the new year, Davis County residents will see new issues coming to light as some of those from 2013 will still need to be resolved.
Gay marriage legalized in Utah
The biggest story in Utah in 2013 and among the last, was Judge Robert J. Shelby overturning the state’s ban on gay marriage on Dec. 20. Couples immediately began lining up at the county clerk’s office in Salt Lake as Gov. Gary Herbert filed a motion to stay the decision.
Couples began lining up at the Davis County clerk’s office early the morning of Dec. 23. Unlike Utah County, the Davis County office opened its doors at 8 a.m. and began issuing licenses. After Shelby denied the motion for a stay later that day, there was another influx of couples looking to avoid the lines in Salt Lake. County.
On Dec. 24, the 10th Circuit Court in Denver denied Utah’s request to put a stop to the marriages. They also said that the state wasn’t “significantly likely” to win its appeal asking the high court to reverse Shelby’s ruling. The state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court Dec. 26, their fifth attempt at halting the gay and lesbian weddings.
Federal shutdown affects many
The federal government shutdown’s impact reached into the lives of many people.
It even made it difficult for some south Davis residents who wanted to hold a family reunion during LDS Conference weekend at Mueller Park, in early October.
Thousands of employees who work at Hill AFB were out of work, for a time, and didn’t get back pay until the end of October.
To help those families impacted by the shutdown, Layton’s Commons Park was turned into a distribution site where volunteers distributed food, clothing and more to hundreds of area residents.
Protesters fight Stericycle
The North Salt Lake medical waste incineration facility Stericycle made headlines in 2013 as residents living in nearby Foxboro subdivision sought to shut down the facility or get it moved.
Protesters brought in high-powered national environmental activist Erin Brockovich in September to deliver the message that Foxboro residents are not alone in their fight against the facility.
Since then, members of the Foxboro-based Communities for Clean Air has hosted presentations by representatives of businesses that offer alternatives to incineration for medical waste and have called on hospitals and clients of Stericycle throughout the western United States to desist using the facility.
Stericycle has indicated they are looking at moving from North Salt Lake, but has not announced any definitive plans.
West Davis Corridor still undecided
The Utah Department of Transportation postponed release of the final Environmental Impact Statement for the West Davis Corridor in November.
After several public comment periods throughout 2013 in which the agency received an overwhelming number of comments on the route, including negative comments from federal agencies, UDOT announced the final EIS wouldn’t be released until the summer of 2014.
The major concern among environmentalists is the indirect impact to the wetlands and upland wildlife habitats, including the Farmington Bay Bird Refuge.
In May, UDOT announced its locally-preferred alternative was the Glovers Lane option, that routed the road from Glovers Lane in Farmington to 4100 West in Clinton.
That route, as now proposed, would remove 26 homes and five businesses and would impact more than 100 acres of farmland.
UDOT is reexamining alternatives, including the Shared Solution that focuses on better use of mass transportation and arterial roadways, as well as options such as telecommuting and flex-scheduling in the workplace.
Kaysville residents protest power fund use
Kaysville voters sent a message to city hall that they don’t want the money they pay for power mixed with the money they pay in taxes.
Proposition 5 passed by a narrow margin, with 2,810 supporting it and 2,224 against.
As a result, all revenue generated through rates collected by the Kaysville Power Department must be spent on department needs and not for other purposes.
An audit of city finances also determined that city departments must pay the electric company for the power it uses.
The city is still working to determine the ramifications of the changes.
After costs rise sharply, Bountiful City Hall put on hold
Bountiful City began the year with plans to build a new city hall building for $5 million, demolishing the old Bountiful/Davis Art Center building in February to make room. By July, however, the price tag for the new building had ballooned to between $9.5 and $10.5 million, despite being no larger than the current city hall. At the time, officials blamed the fact that the contractor’s bids were coming in higher than anticipated due to construction costs.
Though the city council ended up approving the new price tag in a 3-2 vote, residents wanted other options to be explored and petitioned the city council to delay construction until more research could be done. In a surprise vote, the council agreed and voted 3-2 to temporarily table the issue at their Sept. 10 meeting.
The council has commissioned a study to determine what upgrades are needed in order to continue using the current city hall, officially approving it at their Dec. 10 meeting. According to council member Richard Higginson, the study is expected to be complete in February or early March.
Environmentalists try to stop Holly expansion
An expansion of the Holly Refinery in West Bountiful was one of the big news stories this year, with developments reported several times throughout the year.
The refinery received the state’s Division of Air Quality’s blessing to expand in November. However, about 80 protesters came out en masse last January to protest the proposed expansion, that will increase the refinery’s capacity from 40,000 to 60,000 barrels daily.
In May, the refinery submitted plans to the division to further reduce the refinery’s emmisions as part of its effort to secure permitting for the Utah black wax portion of the project.
To end the year, environmentalists filed an appeal with the state to stop the refinery’s expansion.
Boy accused of killing brothers
A tragic story making headlines in 2013 was the May 22 deaths of two young boys in West Point, allegedly at the hands of their 15-year-old brother.
Aza Vidinhar is accused of stabbing his 10-year-old and 4-year-old brothers. The boys’ mother found the two young boys in their home, but could not find her other son, Aza Vidinhar. She reported him missing to police. He was later found walking down a street in Layton.
Homicide charges were filed in July against the teen and in September he waived his right to a preliminary hearing. In November, a judge ruled that statements he made to investigators cannot be used by prosecutors because they continued to question him about his brothers’ deaths after he refused to waive his Miranda rights.
Davis CVB shuts down
The Davis County Commission voted to shut down the Davis Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. It cited results of a rather narrowly-focused independent audit.
The 10 year-old nonprofit agency was funded from non-property tax sources. Those included taxes generated from restaurant sales, hotel stays and car rentals.
The agency was responsible for promoting the county as a tourist draw for venues such as Antelope Island. It was also charged with booking events at the county-owned Conference Center and Legacy Events Center. The audit claimed costs expended outweighed benefits in terms of event bookings.
Kaysville seeks new police station
Discussion of a new police station in Kaysville came to center stage in November, when Chief Sol Oberg addressed the city council about the inadequacies of the current facility.
This month, the city council passed a resolution that got the wheels rolling on a $5.5 million bond to finance the station.
Several Kaysville residents spoke in favor of a new station at the meeting, though some took exception with the way the proposal has been handled.
A public hearing is set for Feb. 18, 2014 on the bond.