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.
Spanish Valley is one of three Utah communities to receive funding needed for water projects, according to USDA Rural Development Utah State Director Randy Parker, who announced in an email that USDA is investing $3.7 million in the projects that will improve rural water infrastructure for communities in central and southeastern Utah.
Growth in Spanish Valley has created a number of concerns for officials, ranging from water and sewer issues, the large amount of state lands in the area, and the cost of providing services to San Juan County when tourists staying in Moab venture south.
Growth along the boundary separating Grand and San Juan counties is one of several issues that have prompted a rare meeting between the counties’ governing boards.