BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
FRUIT HEIGHTS — In the same meeting a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to support the Keystone XL pipeline, they voted to support a less controversial land conveyance in Fruit Heights.
“It’s step three in about an eight-step process,” said Mayor Todd Stevenson, who testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources on April 18. “The fact that it passed the committee was good news.”
City leaders are working to have title to 100 acres of land owned by the Forest Service transferred to the city for use as a cemetery and for trails and open space. That land, on the east bench at about 1800 East and 800 South, is already within the city’s boundaries.
In his testimony, Stevenson told the committee that the city’s need for a cemetery is becoming critical.
“The neighboring communities of Kaysville and Farmington, who are also rapidly growing,” he testified, “have been forced to change their public policies to prohibit or severely discourage non-residents from utilizing local cemeteries due to population increases and limited space in their cemeteries.”
To back up his claim, Stevenson provided the committee a copy of a Farmington city resolution that limits the sale of burial rights in their cemetery to Farmington city residents.
He also included a printout listing cemetery fees in neighboring Kaysville. Both residents and nonresidents pay $500 for an adult burial space, but Kaysville residents pay $500 for interment and nonresidents pay $1,650 for interment in the old section of the cemetery and $2,650 in the new section.
“Our community is landlocked and there are no available parcels of land ... that meet the size and accessibility requirements for a city cemetery,” Stevenson told the committee.
The 100 acres represents .00001 percent of Forest Service land within the state of Utah, Stevenson pointed out.
Besides use as a cemetery, part of the land would remain in a natural state, Stevenson testified, “with the exception of walking and biking trails we will add and improve.”
Elected officials in the city are working to designate all publicly owned park property in Fruit Heights as part of an open space zone, he said.
“Our intent is to improve the Bonneville Shoreline Trail through this parcel of land and build connecting spur trails to the neighborhoods in the area and connect to the existing trails being developed,” he said.
The committee approved the conveyance by a voice vote on April 23.
Rep. Rob Bishop and Sen. Orrin Hatch are co-sponsoring the legislation.
It may be two weeks, it may be a month before the resolution comes before the full house, said Stevenson, but, “we made that one step,” he said. “It’s moving forward.”