San Juan County in southeastern Utah has just two incorporated communities: Monticello and Blanding. Now the village of Bluff may soon be adding itself to that list.
Bluff residents are getting ready to vote on becoming a town. If voters say “yes,” the new Town of Bluff would include 265 people and 25 businesses. It would span 38 square miles.
Incorporation advocate Luanne Hook says people have warmed to the idea even though efforts to be a town have failed in the past. She says this time the community of opinionated individuals seems to be coming together.
“I don’t think we’ve really come up with a motto other than maybe: ‘Keeping Bluff Bluff,’” she says, sitting at a picnic table under a big Cottonwood tree. “I think everybody who lives here kind of likes it the way it is.”
A recent feasibility study says maintaining current services will cost the same, so the move won’t make taxes go up.
And incorporation advocate, Ann Leppanen, says whether it’s moving the garbage transfer station, setting zoning standards or protecting water supplies – locals want a say.
“I think the impetus really has come because, if you look around, we’ve got a lot of new growth going on,” she says. “And people are now a little more energized to take control over our own decision making.”
The idea of more control is especially attractive because Bluff lies in the shadow of the Bears Ears National Monument, where even the boundaries are under dispute – and outside the community’s influence.