Master planning in Spanish Valley was the major focus of a marathon meeting of the San Juan County Commission on Nov. 19.
Former San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman is representing himself in a $10 million lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management, claiming collusion between the BLM, the media, the U.S. Attorney’s office, and special interest groups harmed his business and professional relationship.
The licensure of an aggregate and hot mix asphalt plant in Spanish Valley off Highway 191 on a gravel road that leads to Ken’s Lake was the topic of significant discussion at the Nov. 5 meeting of the San Juan County Commission. Commissioners felt pressured to act as they faced a Nov. 8 deadline for public comment on the licensure decision by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
While hundreds of votes still have not been counted as of Wednesday morning, it appears as if voters are on the way to defeat a ballot initiative that could have led to a change in San Juan County government.
While the November 5 election features a single question for San Juan County voters, the special election is getting more and more complicated.
Cutting its losses, the San Juan County Commission has voted 3-0 to pay attorney fees totaling $2.6 million to the Navajo Nation attorneys who represented the tribe in the years-long litigation over violations of the Voting Rights Act, according to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune.
A special election in November will ask voters in San Juan County if a committee should be formed to consider a change in county government. The election is scheduled after five county residents successfully submitted a petition. County Clerk John David Nielson said that the group submitted several pages of signatures. Signatures were verified using VISTA, the state voter database. Nielson certified the petition when he had verified 278 signatures. That represents five percent of the votes cast in the 2016 general election. The residents include Blanding Mayor Joe B. Lyman, Monticello Mayor Tim Young, Navajo Mountain resident Alexander Bitsinnie, White Mesa resident Suzette Morris, and Spanish Valley resident Wendy Walker Tibbetts. If a majority of voters approve the ballot question, a seven-member committee will study the issue and make a recommendation.
Amidst a moratorium adopted by the San Juan County Commission that will end on Nov. 17, Spanish Valley residents are looking to get ahead of commercial developments, including lodging construction, in the southern part of the valley.
After a representative for the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration announced in April plans to bring a Love’s Travel Stop to SITLA land in southern Spanish Valley, many residents reacted with rage and displeasure at the idea, citing concerns with crime and pollution.
The San Juan County Commission on July 29 unanimously voted to drop any further appeals in the voting rights case that led to the election of two members of the Navajo Nation to the three-person commission last November, according to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune.
San Juan County hired a New Orleans-based law firm in late 2016 to fight against President Barack Obama’s designation of Bears Ears National Monument and later to lobby for the monument’s reduction, as originally reported by The Salt Lake Tribune.
This story was originally published by The San Juan Record.