Skip to main content

Herriman Journal

Herriman City and resident feud over property

Sep 07, 2023 03:17PM ● By Elisa Eames

The road in front of Chad Dansie’s home is approximately 24 feet wide. (Elisa Eames/City Journals)

On March 22 and July 12, Herriman City voted to exercise its right of eminent domain to absorb over an acre of private property in Herriman as it begins to widen sections of Main Street and Herriman Highway. The government’s right to take private property necessary for public use has existed since 1791 when the Fifth Amendment was ratified. This power is also granted by Utah Code, but property owner and lifelong Herriman resident Chad Dansie, who lives on Herriman Highway, feels that the city is being unfair and nontransparent. 

“City engineers… said they’d make sure we have good fencing and that they’d pay for the ground taken, gates and easements,” Dansie explained. During January, however, the city deemed most of the property that it plans to take as noncompensable, meaning that the city will not pay the Dansies for it. Documents from city-hired Wall Consulting Group in Salt Lake show that the city will take a swath of land from three members of the Dansie family totaling 1.3 acres but will compensate owners for only a total of 0.077 acres. 

Early this year, Wall Consulting unearthed an 1898 Salt Lake County document declaring that the road stretches 33 feet into the Dansies’ property, which is significantly farther than the current paved road. “The city claims that the road is 66 feet wide, but in reality, this private farm road has never been greater than 24 feet wide,” Dansie said, though Herriman says that the road is not private nor is it used primarily for farming. The Dansies dispute the validity of the document, claiming that it was not a legal survey, was never recorded and even describes a different road. In contrast, the city asserts that the document was in fact recorded and actually describes Herriman Highway, though the name may have changed over the ensuing century.

Utah Code specifies that “A highway is dedicated and abandoned to the use of the public when it has been continuously used as a public thoroughfare for a period of 10 years.” But Dansie maintains that he has closed the road in front of his house for 24 hours every 10 years to mitigate this. Noting that generations have paid property taxes on this land since it was homesteaded in 1895, the Dansie family claims that they provided the city with this information in January, but the city alleges that it has not received sufficient evidence that the road had actually been closed.

 At the end of January, Dansie got a call from an eminent domain specialist from Wall Consulting. “She had vague paperwork for us to sign to give the city access to the property for two years. She said we had to sign or the property would be condemned,” Dansie declared, referring to another term for government seizure of property. Dansie felt pressured to sign the document and stresses that his elderly neighbors regret signing because city affiliates intimidated them into signing something they didn’t understand. Herriman asserts that “...the city has not been approached by any of these alleged property owners.”

Fencing for the property has also been a major source of frustration for the Dansies, who insist that the city made initial promises that fencing for their property and animals would be maintained but isn’t planning to follow through. “They want to move an existing 50-year-old fence without putting up a temporary one and then put it back as the permanent fence after construction. This is not what was promised,” Dansie said. Herriman countered, “The city is not only willing to put up a temporary fence but has already done so.” An employee of city-hired Landmark Construction commented that within the construction contract, there is “verbiage that says [the fence] has to be maintained for animals and has to be the same or better,” though Dansie feels that this wording is vague and inadequate. 

Herriman officials allege that the Dansies have put forth conditions that are unreasonable and that the city’s efforts to negotiate with the family have been fruitless, leaving no alternative but to begin eminent domain litigation to acquire the property. The lawsuit was filed on April 26. 

 “A major goal of this project is to establish a safe walking path to Oak Leaf Elementary School from the surrounding area,” the city commented. Dansie claims that Herriman Highway is not the only possible safe walking route for the school, while Herriman says that walking routes are determined by the city, school administration, police and typically, the school’s community council. 

Soon after the lawsuit, city officials filed a “Request for Immediate Occupancy,” which allows construction to begin while leaving the issue of just compensation to be resolved later. Construction plans include sidewalks, a center turning lane, turning lanes at intersections, and bike lanes. Extending 1.5 miles, the project is estimated to cost around $10 million. 

Dansie’s position is that the city is unwilling to meet with him to attempt further negotiations, but city lawyer Todd Sheeran stated that legal protocol dictates that he cannot meet without Dansie’s lawyer present. Dansie has insisted that he doesn’t need his lawyer to attend meetings with the city. 

To fund the project, Herriman will accept money from the state, which has pledged approximately $800,000 per year for 15 years. To leverage the state funding, the city council voted in favor of a bond, using the yearly allotment from the state to make payments. 

Judge Kent Holmberg of the Third Judicial District Court of Salt Lake County signed an order of occupancy on July 27 and construction has begun in front of Dansie’s home. It will ultimately be up to Holmberg to determine how much of the Dansie property is compensable. 

Herriman maintains that “The city is acting with integrity, honesty and transparency in this matter,” and Dansie reaffirms his position that city officials aren’t negotiating fairly. Both parties agree that they want a mutually beneficial and speedy resolution. λ