By MICHAEL WARD
Despite opposition from Cedar Hills, the township of Manila is one step closer to becoming officially part of Pleasant Grove.
We believe in people’s rights, to live where they want to live,” said Charmaine Childs, Pleasant Grove City Recorder. “We didn’t go after Manila, they came to us.”
Manila, a township in northern Utah County, has been caught in a territorial tug-of-war for over 20 years.
Cedar Hills Administrator Scott Trainor said 20 years ago an underhanded Cedar Hills mayor tried to forcibly annex Manila using unethical tactics. This attempted annexation has fostered a deep distrust in Cedar Hills for Manila residents, Trainor said.
In May 1997, up to 90 percent of Manila residents signed a petition proposing annexation into Pleasant Grove. Cedar Hills, which has sewer lines close to Manila, protested the annexation.
Cindy Boyd, chairperson of the Manila township, said as long as Manila is part of the county, Cedar Hills can freely construct utility lines through the township. Those facilities, however, would make it impossible for residents to choose to be annexed by Pleasant Grove.
Boyd also said the county emphasis is for unincorporated areas to align themselves with a city.
“In order to provide efficient services from one side of Cedar Hills to the other, we want to be able to provide our services through that county area,” Snow said.
Pleasant Grove resident Robert Schow owns farmland on the outskirts of Cedar Hills. “The rural Manila township is right in the heart of what Cedar Hills would like to be their town,” Schow said.
Cedar Hills, which is the size of a large subdivision, is fighting for its very existence, and the physical mass of Manila would increase Cedar Hills’ potential as a city, Schow said.
Snow said Pleasant Grove has halted construction of Cedar Hills sewer lines close to township area and does not think the two communities could effectively work together on the issue.
Schow said a sewer line attaching 400 acres of undeveloped land through Cedar Hills into American Fork already exists.
“That’s not any more of a problem than (Cedar Hills) sewer lines running through Pleasant Grove,” Schow said.
Upon request by Manila residents, the Pleasant Grove City Council proposed annexation by resolution, which was granted Jan. 8, Boyd said.
Cedar Hills Mayor Elizabeth Johnson said Manila’s borders are five percent Pleasant Grove and 95 percent Cedar Hills.
“We’re the same community, virtually, just not politically,” Johnson said.
Boyd, however, said Manila has always been part of Pleasant Grove, and Manila residents relate better with Pleasant Grove.
Utah County has contracted with Pleasant Grove to maintain Manila’s police and fire protection and other utilities. The zip code and street addresses in Manila are even mapped out using Pleasant Grove coordinates.
But Johnson said the two communities have different philosophies of government. But a city, he said, should be able to provide services to its residents.
Pleasant Grove’s solution is to let people go where they want and work out the utility issue as the need arises.
State law requires 60 days after proposal of annexation before holding a public hearing on the issue. This allows for protests of the action. The public hearing has been set for March 18.
Boyd and other Manila residents say they feel they have the freedom to choose and have chosen Pleasant Grove.
“In the meantime, we could have been in Pleasant Grove last May,” Boyd said.