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Cache County Council input helps shape bill on public roads

Utah State Sen. Scott Sandall and Cache County Council member Sandi Goodlander are seated at a table with numerous people sitting behind them.
Utah Legislature
Cache County Council member Sandi Goodlander, right, speaks during a House Transportation Committee hearing on Feb. 7, 2024 at the Utah Capitol. Utah State Sen. Scott Sandall is seated to the left of Goodlander.

Members of the Cache County Council spoke against a Utah Senate bill twice in recent weeks, and it looks like it may have had an impact.

Senate Bill 67 started as a way to disband a thoroughfare — which is any type of road, highway or street — if the thoroughfare goes through private land and is unused. The land would then return to the private landowner.

Initially, the bill would’ve required a road to have 10 years of continuous use during the last 30 years for the road to remain a public thoroughfare. If it didn’t meet that requirement, the land could be regained by the landowner. The bill wouldn’t apply to federal lands.

However, members of the Cache County Council were concerned. Council member Sandi Goodlander spoke against the bill during a committee meeting on Feb. 7. Among other issues, she said the council worried the bill would take the decision making process away from local officials and give it to state lawmakers.

“There are already processes in place to manage these issues with over 100 years of precedent," Goodlander said. "Each of these cases are unique and complex and we believe they should be handled on a case by case basis by local land authority.”

In addition to Goodlander, other rural public officials and off-highway vehicle advocates also expressed their opposition to the bill. The OHV advocates worried it would cause the closure of trails and limit recreational access. Ultimately, S.B. 67 was tabled and held in the committee.

After hearing the feedback, Utah State Sen. Scott Sandall, the bill’s sponsor, decided to simplify the legislation.

“If a thoroughfare has not been used in the last 50 years, let’s create a process so that it doesn’t have to go through the formal abandonment process, but just let it lapse back to the private landowner," Sandall said.

The Cache County Council viewed the changes as an improvement. Since the changes, the bill was approved in committee and was passed by the Utah House earlier this week. It will head back to the Utah Senate for an additional vote.

Reporter Jacob Scholl covers northern Utah as part of a newly-created partnership between The Salt Lake Tribune and Utah Public Radio. Scholl writes for The Tribune and appears on-air for UPR.