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Herriman Council member: why West Salt Lake County is talking about secession

A bill that would have allowed communities to split from their counties has been shut down in the House. (Image: Herriman City)

Some parts of West Salt Lake County aren’t too happy with their bigger civic partner. Some of the communities on the west side of Utah’s most populous county are starting talk about splitting off from the east side.

Discontent has grown so strong that a bill that would have allowed communities to secede from their counties without the rest of the county’s support made it to the floor of the Utah House of Representatives.

Ultimately, that bill, H.B. 93, wasn’t passed. Nonetheless, the mere fact that elected officials were calling for it shows just how frustrated residents and leaders of some of Salt Lake County’s communities have become.

To better understand what’s behind the frustration in West Salt Lake County, KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic invited Herriman City Councilwoman Nicole Martin onto the show. She explained Herriman’s grievances with the east side and what it will take to heal those wounds.

Herriman City explains the next steps forward

Herriman Councilwoman Nicole Martin speaks to KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic. (Photo: Nicole Martin / Facebook)

Herriman, Martin says, isn’t necessarily ready to pull the trigger and split off from Salt Lake County. They just want to get conversations moving.

“Let’s not go straight to divorce,” she says. “Let’s go to therapy first.”

For her, the important part of H.B. 93 wasn’t the actual changes it would have made, it was the motivations behind it.

For Herriman, one of the big motivations was the Olympia Hills development project. In 2018, Salt Lake County approved a massive development project that would have set up housing for 33,000 people into a 930-acre space. Many Herriman residents and council members were against the plan, but since the vote was put up to the Salt Lake County Council, it passed through despite their objections.

Then-mayor Ben McAdams, a Democrat who now represents Utah’s 4th congressional district, ultimately vetoed that plan, but Olympia Hills is still pushing that plan forward. They’re trying to open a new community just west of Herriman, and this time, there’s no guarantee that the plan will get vetoed a second time around.

Other complaints have been voiced by people in West Salt Lake County’s communities, as well, including accusations of gerrymandering and an unequal distribution of transportation funds.

For Martin, though, the key problem is just that the communities in the western part of the county feel like they’re being ignored, especially when it comes to growth in their communities.

“The southwest communities don’t feel heard from,” she says, “and yet we are the ones who are on the frontline of the growth.”

Splitting from Salt Lake County, she says, isn’t the only way to solve it. Instead, she’d like to see lawmakers, local officials, residents, and developers sit down and have a respectful conversation about Salt Lake County’s future.

Until that happens, she believes the problem won’t be going away.

“Splitting … does not solve the fundamental issue of lack of communication,” Martin says. “That’s going to continue whether we split or not.”

More to the story

If you missed Nicole Martin’s interview live on the air, you can still catch it on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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