Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Utah Ski Resorts Reporting Sunny Days And Clinking Cash Registers On Presidents' Day Weekend, But Powder Mountain's About To Get Cloudier


On February 18th, 2008, the Salt Lake Tribune published an article entitled "Sunny Day And Year For Ski Resorts". Among the highlights was the report that during this past four-day weekend, Sundance Resort received 85% more visitors than normal, with a resultant 45% increase in revenue. The poor air quality in both the Salt Lake and Utah Valleys may have partially fueled the increase as both valleys were under a "Red Alert" due to an inversion with cold, dirty air trapped on the surface beneath warmer air aloft.

However, conditions were just a bit "cloudier" up on Powder Mountain. While the sun was shining just as brightly, visitors to the popular Ogden Valley ski resort were greeted by the sight of a number of local citizens picketing the resort (pictured above left). They showed up to protest the developers' plans to incorporate and transform the area into a massive resort with thousands of houses, condos, and hotel rooms. The result would be a resort three times its present size, encroaching on some nearby towns. Full story aired on KSL Channel 5. Previous post HERE.

To seek incorporation, Utah law, as currently expressed in HB466, requires at least 100 residents in the boundaries and support from more than 50 percent of the land owners. And some of the protestors present would be affected by the expansion plans. "So they just came down here and grabbed just the area that you see right here, 100 citizens, to be in their little town. We have no right to vote on whether we want to be part of the incorporation, and we have no right to elect our first city council or mayor," Eden resident Jim Halay said. A small chunk of Eden would be gobbled up in the expansion.

In January, the Ogden Valley Planning Commission voted in favor of Powder Mountain's rezoning proposal but attached conditions that limited the density of the development. Some residents think that is the reason developers filed for incorporation, because if Powder Mountain is incorporated, it would have its own planning commission--which could help it rezone the 4,400 acre area to build more condos, houses, and hotels (translation - a Powder Mountain planning commission would be a rubber stamp for the resort).

"They are talking about a large scale, that it will be a large city on top of the mountain with one access road; and most of these roads there's only one main artery to get in and out," Eden resident Deja Mitchell said.

Lisa Davis, spokeswoman for Powder Mountain, was on hand for damage control. She said, "They're residents and they want to protect their homes, and we absolutely understand that; and incorporating will actually give them more of a say and more of a voice in how the development needs. The people who have come to understand that are really excited about having that kind of input."

Powder Mountain is holding a meeting for residents this Thursday February 21st to discuss development plans. Two local blogs on the firing line of this issue are the Weber County Forum and the Ogden Valley blog.

Two bills currently under consideration to correct the deficiencies of HB466 are HB164 and SB25. SB25, already revised twice, is the active piece of legislation, and has just been referred to a standing committee.

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