Thursday, September 4, 2008

Powder Mountain Developers, Not Content With "Rubber-Stamped" Incorporation, Sue Weber County Commission Over Town Council Members

It looks like the developers of the Powder Mountain ski resort, who want to transform it into a town, have shown their true colors. Having secured a virtual "rubber-stamped" incorporation for their proposed town from the Weber County Commission by a 3-0 vote back on August 5th, 2008, to paraphrase the late Jim Morrison of the Doors, "they want it ALL, and they want it NOW". So they are suing the commission for "illegally blocking their choice for town council and mayor". Full story published September 4th in the Salt Lake Tribune; thanks to the Weber County Forum, we have Ogden Standard-Examiner hard copy HERE.

To be fair, when the Weber County Commission approved Powder Mountain's incorporation application on August 5th, they did so reluctantly, but approved it because they felt their hands were tied. The application met all the criteria, and no loopholes could be found. Powder Mountain submitted their petition when the old HB466 was still in effect; the replacement legislation, HB164, grandfathered previous applications, including that of Powder Mountain. But the commission was determined to execute a fighting retreat; they refused to appoint a council and mayor from a list of candidates proposed by the Powder Mountain resort owners and developers.

The commission wanted the developers to expand the list of candidates to include residents who have opposed incorporation to ensure better protection of the rights of opponents. But the developers weren't buying it, and are now litigating. "By refusing to make these appointments, the commission has demonstrated they are unwilling to facilitate the incorporation of the town as required by law," the developers said in a statement Wednesday September 3rd.

Powder Mountain owners Mark E. Arnold of Layton, Edward F. Bates of Salt Lake City and Lee A. Daniels of Park City filed the lawsuit in 2nd District Court in Ogden, naming the commission and the three commissioners - Jan Zogmaister, Craig Dearden and Ken Bischoff - as defendants.

The resort owners want to dramatically change Powder Mountain, which straddles the Weber County and Cache County line, with housing, new ski lifts and golf courses that would make it a year-round resort town. View the 58-page Powder Mountain Development Agreement HERE in PDF format. After the Weber Planning Commission applied stiff conditions on development, the resort's owners filed a petition to become a town, essentially taking the development out of the purview of county commissioners.

Residents of the Eden area who will be in the new town are divided, but the majority don't want to be part of Powder Mountain town and fear the effects on traffic, public safety and the environment on the mountain top.

But the resort owners, who say they've held countless hours of meetings to gather input from future town residents, accuse the commission of playing politics. "We have become caught in an effort by the commission to protect themselves politically, so we have determined that requesting relief from the court is our only option. We want what every single property owner in this state desires and vigorously defends: our private property rights respected", the owners said in a statement. The entire statement can be viewed on the Ogden Valley blog.

The commission has not yet responded to the lawsuit. Click HERE to review all previous posts on the Powder Mountain incorporation.

As has been their custom, the Weber County Forum is on top of the story once again. They commend the Weber County Commission for sticking to their guns, they believe the 2nd District Court will provide a fair and friendly forum, and they welcome a test of the constitutionality of the orphaned HB466.

The Powder Mountain developers are incredibly stupid to be picking a legal fight over this issue. They got their victory on August 5th when their incorporation petition was approved; they ought to be a bit magnaminous in victory and at least allow a couple of Eden "naysayers" on the proposed council. Maybe they think it will be a slam dunk in court, but then so did Dean Sellers.

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