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Residents Try to Block City Plan to Raze Cedar Grove

Residents Try to Block City Plan to Raze Cedar Grove

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- The Utah County community of Cedar Hills was named for its dense groves of cedar trees, but now some residents are fighting to save those trees from a bulldozer.

Cedar Hills' City Council voted in February to build 22 homes on a city-owned golf course in order to raise $6.25 million to pay off a bond issued last year to keep the course in the black.

Under a development plan 11 of the homes will be built in a stand of mature cedars, which some could be 500 years old.

City leaders plan to remove the trees, but a citizen petition and an old agreement with the neighboring community of Highland could stop the construction.

In 2000, Cedar Hills annexed the land where the trees stand from Highland, said Gary Phillippi, a former Highland Council members. In the deal, Cedar Hills committed to an irrevocable conservation easement to forever protect the trees.

But legal paperwork for the easement was never executed. Phillippi said Highland acted in good faith and is now asking the Cedar Hills council to do the same. Working with Phillippi is Tyler Sheffield, a Highland resident who lives next to the grove. He says he's collected 500 signatures from residents who don't want the trees razed.

Building homes in the grove "would wipe out most of the grove as we know it," Sheffield said. "We appeal to Cedar Hills to honor the understanding between the cities."

Highland's Council plans to vote June 5 on a plan that would offer Cedar Hills a piece of land for the golf course in exchange for executing the easement agreement.

Cedar Hills City Manager Konrad Hildebrant said it's not a fair trade. The land offered isn't enough for 11 homes, but Cedar Hills would likely be required to include all the cedar grove in the easement.

Cedar Hills Mayor Mike McGee said the city's first priority is paying off its debt. "There is no other choice," said McGee. "We will do everything we can to save as many trees as possible, but if it comes down to paying off the debt or making Highland residents happy, we will probably pay off the debt."


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Information from: The Daily Herald

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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