A presentation to make Ash Springs an unincorporated town was introduced Monday at the county commission meeting by Rogan Haslem, manager of the R Place Shell and RV park there.
He said his request is coming after a majority of residents and property owners living in the area had signed a petition to present to the commission board. About 17 people live in the area at present. “We believe the advantage of being an unincorporated town would be self-government, protection and leverage in dealing with present concerns about the hot springs itself.”
He cited some incidents that happened at Ash Springs that he believes could have been handled within the community instead of needing to bring the matter to the commission board or county departments.
“What happened was that most of the people didn’t even know there was an issue until it was too late.”
Among the other reasons he gave was for protection. “We believe we are in a position to protect ourselves if someone from the outside might want to do something without even considering our needs and our wishes, and more specifically the BLM closure of Little Ash.”
Haslem stated, “If that property were to be considered within the town of Ash Springs, perhaps we would have some better leverage in order to have some impacts on the decisions to be made there.”
He said he did not know whether or not BLM property, such as Little Ash, could be included in a town area. Big Ash is private property. “Although,” he said, “it would be very beneficial to include that area because, according to what I understand, the water rights are owned by the property owners at Ash Springs, not the BLM.
Commissioner Varlin Higbee said the water rights have been “allocated all the way from Ash Springs down to the Lower Lake.”
Haslem said from his discussions with District Attorney Daniel Hooge there are distinct differences between townships and towns and Ash Springs would certainly only be considered a town.
An advisory board consisting of three to five people would be established to deal with local issues and make recommendations to the county commission.
Other questions were raised at the meeting which will still have to be investigated.
Hooge said what his office needed would be a statement of purpose petition including proposed boundaries, and whether or not a three-or-five person advisory board was being requested.
Haslem said the fact of Little Ash Springs being closed by the BLM in 2014 was the spark that caused the discussions among the local residents of proposing to be made an unincorporated town.
“Right now,” he said, “the area is being neglected. Fences are down and people can, and do, walk right into the property. It’s wide open and is not being taken care of.”