Last week Hansen said he had withdrawn his proposal for an extra eight inches on his headstone because of several angry responses he received from residents, and because of the negative and what he called "belittling" press coverage on the subject. However, city council member Rick Dutson said there were many who respected Hansen enough to accept his request for more inches on his headstone.
"My observation has been that most of us in the council and people in the community have been appreciative and respectful of Hansen's decision because of the service he's given to the community, and his community involvement has been far-reaching on even a national level," he said. "Pretty much everyone in the council was fine with his variance request, and I have also not heard much opposition from residents."
Council member Sid Young agreed the debate over Han-sen's grave height increase seemed milder than it was made out to be.
"I live in the south Farmington area pretty close to Jim, and I didn't hear much from residents being against it either," he said. "It really wasn't a big deal with residents from what I saw, and I feel a lot of them respect Jim Hansen and his opinion."
Because of the lack of opposition he found in the issue, Dutson said he was actually surprised when he first received an e-mail from a woman against Congressman Hansen's request.
"She was frustrated that he would even make a request like that and wanted to make sure he wasn't accommodated, and the e-mail really hit me cold because I didn't recognize anyone in my neighborhood being against the variance," he said. "He made such a simple request over a simple thing that was no huge issue at all, and someone may have looked at it as just because he's a well-known public figure in the community, it shouldn't give him the right to have special privileges."
Dutson said Hansen's goal was not to offend people or make his headstone tower over and intimidate the others surrounding his.
"Hansen didn't look at it as, 'let's give me something no one else can have' or 'let's make mine higher than everyone else's,'" he said. "With the way the headstone was laid out, it just happened to require an extra eight inches."
Dutson also said those against the variance may have seen it as a way more people could try to add inches to future headstones.
"Some people may have thought that if you make an exception for just one person there will be other people in the future wanting exceptions for headstone modifications; but I don't see that as being the case," he said. "I don't think there would be case after case on something as simple as variance on cemetery laws, and people have other more important things to worry about."
Because of Hansen's willingness to give so much of his time to help others, Dutson said it was unfair for him to feel pushed into withdrawing his simple request.
"I feel bad for Hansen right now because he's been a real gentleman who has given much outstanding service to our city," he said. "He's been a past council member who has done wonderful things for the community and served in a valiant manner, so this really shouldn't have been such a hardship after all he's given to the community. It's only a few extra inches on a headstone, and it's really not a problem."