North Fields & Open Space

Northfields summer picClick here to join the: Save the North Fields Facebook Page!   

To learn more & DONATE  (tax deductible) to preserve the North Fields, go to UTAH OPEN LANDS website today.               _______________________

NEW!!! 6-14-17- Wasatch County Council discusses starting an open space committee, and possible bond options, with Wendy Fisher from Utah Open Lands.  Watch the discussion here: Wasatch Taxpayers YouTube page.

6-7-17  Wasatch County takes first steps to a OPEN SPACE bond election in 2017 or 2018! Wasatch County councilman, Danny Goode, asked the rest of the council to discuss the options for putting the issue of open space to the people. The Wasatch Council has been discussing open space for over 12 years, and some council people even ran on the issue, yet so far there’s been no organized effort to work towards preserving some key areas of our county. Councilman Goode asked the council to vote that night to either put the bond on the ballot themselves, or then at least let the citizens know if they will need to do it themselves in a form of an initiative petition. The voters last November voted 74% to preserve current zoning in the Northfields, and some citizens on Facebook asked WHY they need to keep voting for saving open space. There was a serious discussion, and a few citizens spoke to encourage them to take the initial steps to put it on the ballot. Watch the discussion here: Wasatch Taxpayers YouTube page.

 4-12-17 Wasatch County Council voted 4-1 (Goode, Nelson,Park, Farrell- yea, Petersen -Nay) to donate $25,000 to Park City’s Bonanza Flat purchase. Councilman Danny Goode led the conversation and requested that the council consider donating somewhere between $10K- $50K. Also in the conversation was a possible bond election for North Fields (or other open space fund). But for some reason, it was suggested that the citizens of Wasatch County would have to do a initiative petition to get it on the ballot. Why do the citizens have to jump through hoops to get it on the ballot when the county council could decide to put it on the ballot themselves??? An initiative petition would require about 2500 signatures from registered voters. Not necessary if the county council would follow the lead of the last November election, where the voters decided by 75% to not allow more density in the North Fields, and just put it on the ballot themselves. It still would have to get approved by the people anyway.  Watch the discussion here: Wasatch Taxpayers YouTube page.

3-1-17 Wasatch County Council had a meeting with Park City’s mayor and Utah Open Lands’ Executive Director, Wendy Fisher about the progress with Bonanza Flat fund raising. Watch discussion here: Wasatch Taxpayers YouTube page.

2-8-17 Wasatch County Council talked about the possibility of bonding for preserving open space in the future.

Two discussions- one on the upcoming purchase of Bonanza Flats (in WASATCH CO.) by Park City and whether Wasatch County would financially support the effort. See video here: Wasatch Taxpayers YouTube page.  

*** Second discussion on a possible bond for the North Fields after 75% of voters in Nov 2016, supported keeping the density the same. Watch discussion here:  Wasatch Taxpayers YouTube    Transferable Development Rights study mentioned in video- North Fields MAG Report – TDRs 


2016 Election Wasatch County results — North Fields was Proposition 12

Wasatch County voters sent a clear message to the County Council on this Nov 2016 ballot, after the County Council passed this 10 acre rezone in 2014 even after listening to the public outcry NOT to do it.  Almost 75% voted this Nov. AGAINST the rezone of 2800 sensitive acres to a smaller 10 acre zone.  This is a clear mandate on the Northfields, and moving forward on possible future rezone issues in Wasatch County. Wallsburg is also dealing with a big rezone/development issue in the next year.   See more info on Wallsburg issues at this facebook page.   The public tide is turning, and the county council (and city councils too) should consult the public and really listen to the concerns of the people.

Now the hard work begins. A citizen committee, including Northfields landowners, is being formed to address the Northfields area and prepare a plan for many options for landowners to preserve their land for generations to come, if they so desire. Utah Open Lands has agreed to help us, and will be instrumental in guiding this community to impliment successful proven policies. Stay tuned….


Here’s how it read on the ballot:

PROPOSITION 12-   North Fields Zoning Change

Shall the minimum building lot size be changed from 20 acres to 10 acres in the area known as the North Fields. The North Fields area is bounded on the west by the Provo river Mitigation property, on the south by U-113, on the east and south by the Heber City boundary, also on the east by US-40 and on the north by River Road excepting those lands within the North Village Special Service Area?




2010 BYU/Heber City survey with citizen comments included:northfields-heber-survey-comments
IMPORTANT!! See info that explain impacts-  North Fields- 10 acr zoning and wetland maps (right click mouse to rotate document)

WASATCH CO. VOTER INFORMATION PAMPHLET-2016-northfields-local-voter-info-pamphlet

Here’s the AGAINST argument submitted to the County Clerk:

Against Northfields Rezone

It is important to understand why the 2800 acres in the Northfields is a ballot item. The public will vote whether the Northfields zoning should be changed from a 1 home per 20 acres zone, to a 1 home per 10 acre zone. The Wasatch County Council voted in November 2014 to rezone this area without proper due process according to Utah and County code, and also without a 10 acre zone even established in the County General Plan. There is still none today.

Some Northfields’ landowners, who disagreed with the council’s decision, sponsored a referendum petition to possibly retract their vote. The county-wide petition asked for this issue to be put on the ballot, and needed 1847 signatures. More than 2200 signatures were collected from Wasatch County residents who agreed that saving this vital, historic ground was important.

Concerned citizens and Northfields’ landowners have been working the past year to develop a preservation plan in concert with the Heber and Wasatch County public officials, Utah Open Lands, and Mountainland Association of Governments. A vote now to rezone the Northfields to 10 acres would increase the value, increase landowners’ taxes, and preservation will be even more difficult to achieve.

Wasatch County professionals in 2014 shared their reasoning against the 10 acre rezone. The Wasatch County Planner shared the General Plan where it specifically talks about the 20 acre zone and how it is purposefully meant to preserve agricultural land:

Wasatch County General Plan- Purpose Section of the A-20 code:

  1. Avoid excessive costs for public services in areas with high physical constraints;
  2. Provide a location where the cultivation of crops and the raising and keeping of livestock and related uses can be protected and encouraged;
  3. Prevent the necessity of having to pay excessive taxes on grazing lands;
  4. Preserve the beauty of the entry corridors of Wasatch County;
  5. Protect the underground water supply from pollution; and
  6. Maintain an open rural buffer between Heber and Midway City. (2002 Code § 16.06.01

Our County Director of Tourism and Economic Development actually advised our county council NOT to adopt the rezone in 2014, citing a 6 month survey they conducted with visitors. The #1 reason tourists visit us once, or numerous times, was the “rural feel and open space.” He stated that a rezone might have “long term ramifications, and may negatively affect our tourism industry.”

Also in 2000, the Heber City Council published their “Declaration of Policy – Northfields” to help preserve the area:

“Preserving the scenic character and open space of the North Fields has been an important part of past master plans’ objectives.”

“For some thirty years the public has allowed the Northfields to be assessed based on value which the land has for agricultural use, rather than fair market value, for the purpose of making it affordable to preserve as such.”

We ask you to vote AGAINST the Northfields rezone to 10 acres on the ballot this election.

To see detailed information mentioned here go to

(There is much more info below, when the County Council tried TWICE to rezone this property. There were citizen concerns about process, and the conflicts of interest on the planning commission, at the time. Scroll down to read more detailed information on this.)


Great research paper on tax savings of open space to communities: cost-benefit-study-of-land-uses-open-space
Excerpt: “American Farmland Trust. Farmland Information Center. Fact Sheet: Cost of Community Services Study. August 2007.

“Communities pay a high price for unplanned growth. Scattered development frequently causes traffic congestion, air and water pollution, loss of open space and increased demand for costly public services. This is why it is important for citizens and local leaders to understand the relationships between residential and commercial growth, agricultural land use, conservation, and their community’s bottom line. Cost of Community Services (COCS) studies help address three claims that are commonly made in rural or suburban communities facing growth pressures:

1. Open lands – including productive farms and forests –are an interim land use that should be developed to their “highest and best use.”

2. Agricultural land gets an unfair tax break when it is assessed at its current value for farming or ranching instead of at its potential use value for residential or commercial development.

3. Residential development will lower property taxes by increasing the tax base. 20 years of COCS studies – Median Results: for every $ in tax revenue, x Commercial and industrial land use costs $0.29, x Working and open land cost $0.37 , x Residential costs $1.19 LAND USE COST BENEFIT STUDIES

Page 3 The findings of COCS studies are consistent with those of conventional fiscal impact analyses, which document the high cost of residential development and recommend commercial and industrial development to help balance local budgets. What is unique about COCS studies is that they show that agricultural land is similar to other commercial and industrial uses. In every community studies, farmland has generated a fiscal surplus to help offset the shortfall created by residential demand for public services. This is true even when the land is assessed at its current, agricultural use. They can help local leaders discard the notion that natural resources must be converted to other uses to ensure fiscal stability. They also dispel the myths that residential development leads to lower taxes, that differential assessment programs give landowners an “unfair” tax break and that farmland is an interim land use just waiting around for development.”

A-20 Wasatch County General Plan website  – Northfields’ zoning code.

NORTHFIELDS AERIAL VIEW-To the west of Highway 40, north of Midway Lane (Highway 113), to the Provo River Corridor Reclamation property, then to the north at the intersection of River Road and Highway 40 (except for the intersection piece).

Click picture to enlarge.

Northfields aerial







 This was in the WASATCH CO. COURIER in 2000:  Click picture to enlarge

North Fields Resolution












2014- Northfields REZONE attempt
THE REFERENDUM PETITION IS SUCCESSFUL! The county clerk certified 2014 signatures, 1847 were required on January 9, 2015. This issue will now be put on the November 2016 ballot for the public to decide whether to allow the 20 acre zoning in this area to become 10 acres. 

Another lawsuit was filed on Dec 17th against Wasatch County by a Northfields’ landowner who is claiming the County Council did not follow their own General Plan and land use code.  

This newest attempt to rezone the Northfields was NOT initiated by a Northfields’ landowner in the formal application process. The Wasatch County Council themselves decided to pass a motion to send it to their planning commission for review and then voted to pass the rezone on November 19, 2014.  The Wasatch County Council passed, on Nov 19th, 2014, a motion to move 2800 ACRES into an A-10 ZONE that currently DOESN’T EXIST in the Wasatch County General Plan. Now the citizens, and primarily some landowners of the Northfields who are most affected by this decision, have filed a REFERENDUM PETITION at the county clerk’s office on Nov. 24th! The citizens will have to get 1850 signatures by the end of December. For more info and to stay in touch with the effort go to Save the Northfields Facebook Page.  

This referendum petition simply says: 
“We, the undersigned citizens of Wasatch County, Utah, respectfully order that the Wasatch County rezone of the Northfields, A-20 zone to an undetermined A-10 zone passed by the Wasatch County Council, be referred to the voters for their approval or rejection at the regular general election to be held on November 2016.”
The County Council passed the Northfields rezone to A-10 (1 home per 10 acres) on Wed, Nov. 19, 2014. The vote was 4-2.   4 Yeas- Price, Capson, McPhie and Bangerter. 2 Nays- Crittenden and Farrell. Kohler was absent. The problem is, there IS NO A-10 zone in the Wasatch County General Plan to put it into.  North Fields- Co Council packet 11-19-14          Watch the videos of the meeting- Wasatch Taxpayers YouTube Page

The Planning Commission voted 3-2 and forwarded it to the council WITHOUT a recommend (since they needed 4 votes for that).  Planning commissioners’ vote: YEA= Spencer Duke, Robert Gappmayer , and Shelly Olsen — NAY= Gerald Hayward and Jon Jacobsmeyer.  Paul Probst and Liz Lewis recused themselves because they own property in the Northfields. Spencer Duke does too, but decided NOT to recuse himself even though he ended up passionately lecturing the public who attended that night which showed his constituents of his biased decision without concern for the public. Listen and decide: Wasatch Taxpayers YouTube Page  (videos 2, 5, & 6 are key).                                                                The fact that some planning commissioners AND county councilmen own property there, or their families do, is of MAJOR concern. Conflicts of interest are discussed on this page towards the bottom, when 2 years ago, the planning commission did not follow their bylaws and ethics requirements and a group of citizens filed a formal complaint to the County Manager and County Attorney. A training for the planning commission on their standards of practice (see below) was conducted afterwards. Hopefully they will improve their conduct this time.


 2012- Northfields REZONE attempt

This attempt was by an actual landowner in the Northfields who had tried to sell his property for years, but could not get a price he felt was reasonable in that market. He did fill out a formal application for a rezone with the Wasatch County planning department. 

Impact radio programs with county manager, Mike Davis (If you need to sign in, username- heberut/password- heber)

Impact 12-6-2012 Pt 1 Mike Davis,Co Manager Talks about Special Service Districts, Wasatch Co. Fire District tax increase

Impact 12-6-2012 Pt 2 Mike Davis CountyMgr 1/3 of the way into recording talks about planning commission citizen’s complaint, conflicts of interest, change in gov’t referendum committee.

Impact 12-18-2012 Pt 1MikeDavis, Co Mgr Pay raise, discussion about personnel,the costs of training inexperienced service people.

Impact 12-18-2012 Pt 2 MikeDavis Co Mgr Discusses planning commission applicants and process, and personnel.

*****A FORMAL COMPLAINT FROM CITIZENS WAS SENT TO THE COUNTY COUNCIL AND COUNTY ATTORNEY– PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING WHERE CITIZENS WERE HARRASSED (see recording above on ensuing planning commission re-appointments by county manager, in 2013,  of some of the same people to planning commission)

Plan Comm recording 8-9-2012-Northfields– (might take a minute to download) Discussion starts with County Planner at 31 minutes into recording, first citizen starts speaking at 41:30. County Manager received a citizen complaint with 6 names who witnessed this meeting in August, and the county never formally responded. In November, another follow up letter was sent to the county by citizens.  The county attorney responded by Jan 2013, see letter:  WC- GRAMA denial Jan 2013

The letter sited conflicts of interest with 3 members of the planning commission who own property in the Northfields and openly disclose they do in the August meeting.    In the original complaint, included was state code:

UTAH STATE CODE– Conflict of Interest

A planning commissioner to whom some private benefit may be derived as the result of a planning commission action should not be a participant in the action. The following are recommended as guidelines for dealing with conflicts:

The private benefit may be direct or indirect, create a material personal gain or provide an advantage to relatives, friends or groups and associations which hold some share of a person’s loyalty.

State law requires that a public official experiencing a conflict of interest declare the conflict publicly.It is strongly recommended, however, that a planning commissioner with a conflict abstain from voting on the action in question and leave the room during consideration of the action.The commissioner should not discuss the matter privately with any other commissioner. The vote cast by a planning commissioner who has a conflict of interest, but who has not excused him or herself, shall be disallowed. (pg 2-16)

By-Laws of the Wasatch County Planning Commission

– Sect XI: (C) No member shall act or vote on any matter which he or she has a direct financial interest, which involve a conflict of interest as found in he Utah Code, or which a member cannot fairly and impartially act or vote on any matter before the Commission.
Any member declaring a conflict of interest shall be disqualified and shall leave the room and not participate in the discussion and vote pertaining to that particular matter.

The Chairperson

The chairperson should endeavor to develop the group’s communication networks. The chairperson is the unifying member of the commission. The chairperson’s responsibility is to assure that meetings are conducted by the rules and each member is allowed to express opinions. The chairperson should encourage discussion, but discourage arguments. A planning commission is a problem-solving group, and it is the responsibility of the chair to propel the group toward its goals and prevent irrelevant and distracting discussion. An effective chairperson is an organizer who develops and maintains good group interaction to assure a successful and timely conclusion of each item on the meeting agenda.

Planning commission’s standard of practice:  The Planning Commission (CPPA, U of U)

Included among the most important character traits for an effective planning commissioner are 

  • A willingness to serve the long-range interests of the community with sensitivity to the impact that each decision will impose upon the future of the community.
  • An ability to avoid politics, or extreme biases, from affecting decisions. The dedicated planning commissioner bases all decisions on the facts, an objective interpretation of the regulations, and the best interest of the total community.
  • An ability to clarify the feelings in the community on all sides of an issue. The commissioner’s responsibility is to sort out opinions and make recommendations to enable the decision-makers to vote in the best interest of the community. The commission can help prevent an elected official from acting in an arbitrary or capricious manner by clarifying the issues. Many times such clarification can avoid the sacrifice of a long range benefit for short term gratification.
  • A desire to expand his/her knowledge of the community. The commissioner should be well informed of the history, development and social and physical needs of the community. The commissioner should review carefully all available facts concerning the community to understand its values, characteristics and dynamics.
  • An understanding of the community’s regulatory tools, such as the zoning, subdivision, and other pertinent ordinances. These tools are the primary means of implementing the general plan. Like any powerful tools, they must be handled with skill, sensitivity, and care.

Citizen comments that were included in the complaint:

“First off, I’d like to say, I did not speak at the meeting because of how aggressive the committee was with the other speakers.  I felt some were more concerned with their own property development than the issue at hand.”

“My observation, as to the behavior of those on the planning commission, was far from professional.  They demeaned the Commission by attacking those who presented legitimate opposition to the rezoning application.”

“The citizens who spoke were aggressively challenged on their beliefs, debated with in public, and berated for not believing in the constitution just because we believe in zoning regulations and adhering to our county master plan.”

“In the public meeting the Planning Board totally ignored their obligation to apply the Standard of Review for variances. Reference to the General Plan is required and none was even attempted. The Board primarily made their personal arguments as to the unfairness of the existing zoning law with respect to their ownership rights. Essentially they argued against the existence of the law and failed to enforce the law.”

“My first observation was that (certain commissioners) were biased in favor of development and without concern for the impact and aesthetics’ a more concentrated development is likely to have on the beautiful Heber Valley.  Both visual appearance and likely degradation of air quality etc.  (They seemed hostile toward citizens input)

“The members of the planning commission that have significant land holdings in the North Fields should have recused themselves from the vote as it appears as a conflict of interest and biased decision. With the decision to recommend the zone change from A-20 to RA-5 for the 30 acre parcel in the North Fields, the planning commission paid no heed to the 12+ findings that staff posted that were clearly against recommendation for the rezone or of great concern.”


 This website is for educational purposes only, unless it is specifically stated that WTPA has a stance on a specific issue. To the best of our knowledge this is correct information, but we welcome corrections if errors are found.      
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