A town is born: Cedar Highlands poised to become Utah’s newest municipality

The mountain community of Cedar Highlands, Utah, Nov. 9, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR HIGHLANDS — The mountain community of Cedar Highlands is poised to become Utah’s newest municipality, with its newly elected mayor and town council members scheduled to be sworn in at noon on Friday, Jan. 5.

The swearing-in ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Leavitt Center on the Southern Utah University campus in Cedar City, with Utah 5th District Court Presiding Judge Thomas M. Higbee administering the oath of office to the town’s newly elected officials.

Cedar Highlands Mayor-elect Steven Swann at his home, Cedar Highlands, Utah, Nov. 27, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Mayor-elect Steven C. Swann will be joined by four town council members who were elected in November: Susan Allman, Beth Gaines, Linda Stetzenbach and Paul Starks. The ceremony is open to the public and will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

Cedar Highlands, with a population of about 120, is nestled in the forests at about 8,000 feet elevation in the mountains southeast of Cedar City, overlooking the city and surrounding valleys.

The community began as a mountain vacation cabin development in 1981, said Swann, who has lived in Cedar Highlands since 2015, joining a growing group of residents who live there full-time. The development features 165 lots, about half of which have been developed, with eight new cabin homes under construction, Swann said.

Swann said he believes Cedar Highlands is Utah’s newest incorporated town since Apple Valley incorporated in Washington County in 2004. It is also Iron County’s newest municipality since Brian Head was incorporated in 1975. (Ed. note: Garfield County’s Bryce Canyon City was incorporated in 2007.)

Swann, who once lived in the Harmony Valley, said he and other Cedar Highlands residents received insight and inspiration from that community as they pursued Cedar Highlands’ incorporation.

But although there was some precedent, Cedar Highlands had to break new ground due to changes in incorporation requirements, according to state officials.

The mountain community of Cedar Highlands, Utah, Nov. 9, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“The process to incorporate a town used to be under the supervision of the county,” said Angela Chozo of the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s office.

“A few years back, the legislature made some changes to the existing law and gave that responsibility to our office,” she added. “Cedar Highlands was the first town incorporation process we oversaw.”

In November 2016, Cedar Highlands residents voted 79-44 in favor of a ballot measure to incorporate, paving the way for the town’s elected officials to appear on this year’s ballot. The town needed a minimum of 100 residents in order to incorporate, Swann said.

Now that the elections have been held, Swann and his fellow elected town officials have been working to complete the remaining necessary legal steps in the incorporation process.

Chozo said after Swann submitted the necessary documents required by state law, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office issued the a formal certificate of incorporation, dated Dec. 7.

Swann has since filed needed paperwork with the Iron County Recorder and the Utah State Tax Commission, and has been working on taking care of additional items of business.

Cedar Highlands Mayor-elect Steven Swann turns in paperwork to Iron County Recorder’s office, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 11, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“We’re literally starting from scratch,” he said.

Swann says he is looking forward to working with town council members and other Cedar Highlands residents to improve the community and make it safer, particularly with respect to fire prevention and improving road safety.

Swann said he and other town officials have been encouraging fellow homeowners to maintain their efforts to clear buffer zones of weeds and undergrowth around their properties to mitigate wildfire danger.

In addition, he said plans are in the works to eventually re-engineer the rough dirt road that leads from Cedar City up the mountain to Cedar Highlands, which has steep grades of 15-17 percent or more in some sections.

“We’re working with the BLM to make sure it’s no more than a 10 percent grade all the way up,” Swann said.

The existing homeowners’ association that has privately governed the community since the early 1980s will be gradually phased out as the new civic government takes over, he said.

Being incorporated will also enable Cedar Highlands to apply for and receive federal and state grants, along with other funding sources, Swann said.

“It gives us a little more control over what happens on this mountain,” he said. “There’s a greater sense of community.”

“We’re very cognizant about our challenges,” he said. “It’s not going to be a walk in the park, but we believe it is worth the effort to improve our community for the better of all.”

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Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

 

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3 Comments

  • Proud Rebel December 21, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Great! Now they can have, (and pay for,) their own fire and police protection, their own public works department, their own water and sewer system! And all paid for by 120 people. I hope these are extremely rich people…

  • Badshitzoo December 21, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Brilliant a town that will literally disappear one day when Cedar mountains 50 yr old bark beetle ridden dead pines & brush finally catch a lightening strike on a nice gusty day in Iron Co.

  • Gary December 26, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I’m glad to hear it, hopefully they can eventually get the road realigned and paved, and maintained by a company that won’t destroy it. Most people who live there are not “rich”, but they do have their own water system and it is doubtful that their septic systems will be replaced by sewer anytime soon. They’ve been paying taxes like everyone else in Cedar City, with very few services. I’m happy for them.

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