Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Powder Mountain Update: The Standard-Examiner's Charlie Trentelman Chimes In

The Standard-Examiner's top columnist examines the Joseph Stalin “my way or the gulag” model
Added Bonus: a new Salt Lake Tribune editorial

Charles Trentelman has a strong op-ed piece in this morning's Wasatch Rambler column, in which he chimes in on the Powder Mountain town incorporation brouhaha. To kick off discussion on this topic again this morning, we incorporate Charlie's opening paragraphs:
I would love to ask the people who own Powder Mountain ski resort where they learned how government operates. Russia? Cuba? North Korea?

It sure wasn’t America.

As readers of this paper know, the owners of Powder Mountain ski resort want to expand their kingdom. They envision hundreds of housing units, larger ski runs, new roads, condos, stores and thousands of visitors a day.

The good people of Ogden Valley, concerned fulfillment of those plans would drop a road-clogging and quickie-mart building bomb on the area’s rural beauty, took the idea under study. Laboring under the impression that, in America, the people have a voice in how their community is built, they wrote up a list of planning goals for the Powder Mountain folks to follow. Their idea was, “You want to be a good neighbor, do this.” The response of the Powder Mountain folks was, “The heck with you.” Leaning on an idiotic law passed by the Legislature last year, the resort owners decided to form their own city. They would appoint their own mayor and council. They would levy their own taxes.

If the people of Ogden Valley, and especially Eden, parts of which were included just to make the population numbers fit, didn’t like it, then tough noogies.

The people don’t like it. Who would?
Read Charlie's full column here, and then come back and comment if you believe there's anything Charlie left out.

Update 2/26/08 8:45 a.m. MT: Thanks to a tip from sharp-eyed and alert reader Ray, we direct our readers to this morning's Salt Lake Tribune editorial, which calls for the outright repeal of HB-466. It also provides some historical background on the manner in which the legislature has ignored the ill effects of this legislation, as problems have continued to fester in Weber County and elsewhere in Utah. Read and participate in the comments section below the editorial, where some good comments are already queuing up. Today's SLTrib article presents the ideal opportunity, we think, to educate Salt Lake Valley and other Utah citizens within the SLTrib's broad readership, about the magnitude of the problems, actual and potential, arising from this ill-conceived legislation.


Curmudgeon said...

Bravo, Mr. Trentelman! Bravo!

Tec Jonson said...

The Powder Mountain owners seem to have a little public perception issue.

They have such an opportunity to use this law in their favor and the locals but they seem to have shot themselves in the foot instead of developing a comprehensive plan that is digestible.

Surely most would appreciate PM's need to upgrade and to allow some development.

Towns were originally developed around the local resources so in that spirit PM makes total sense. What is wrong with a small town developed around a ski area as long as the workforce is also accommodated.

What if SLC or the next well developed burg opposed development in Ogden when the UP rail came through. They might have protested that the small farmers along the bench had no interest in becoming a part of a city based all the way down on Washington. This example may not represent the actual historical sequence locally but the issues are similar.

I'm not saying that PM has much of the local interest at heart but they may need some help formulating something that works for everyone instead of being tossed aside as just another greedy developer who cares little about the local scene. How did things get so polarized so fast. These owners seem to not read the guidebook to appropriate mountain development.

Bottom line is that they need to upgrade the road, the lodges, the lifts, and formulate a greener approach to home clustering to preserve the character and natural setting.

Curmudgeon said...


You're arguing, seems to me, the wrong issue. You're arguing "should PM be a town?" "Should the resort expand?" "How should the resort and access be improved?" All interesting questions, but they have nothing whatever to do with the matter Mr. Trentelman raised.

Which is this: is representative government in the US... yes, even in Utah... a fundamental liberty, an unalienable right? Or is it merely a privilege that corporate developers may grant or not as they please to residents of the towns that the corporate developers create without a vote of the residents to do so? Is representative government something the people must here in Utah, heads bowed and tugging their forelocks like good little peasants and serfs, ask their corporate masters to grant them as a favor? That's the question. And that question remains no matter how the questions you raised get answered. That question remains whether you think Powderville Town is a good idea or not, whether you think the resort should expand or not, and so on.

Bill C. said...

Tec, it was timing, and their own greed. Faced with having to spend untold dollars on road building which they assumed to be the public's responsibility and the bizare bill gifted by the legislature, they went for broke.
Don't forget that all this was first presented to Cache County first, a more natural fit logistically, and rejected out of hand by Cache.
The Ogden Valley Planning Commission offered them a reasonable way to proceed, it just didn't cave into their every desire.
It was Powder Mountain that responded with this all or nothing, scortched earth approach. To even attempt what their doing is unconscionable.

Ray said...

Check out todays editorial in the Salt lake Tribune...

dan s. said...

Terrific column. Thanks, Charlie!

I'd also like to publicly congratulate the Ogden Valley activists who have gotten involved in the Powder Mountain issue. They've run an absolutely professional, first-rate campaign here, which the rest of us activists can learn a great deal from. They're covering all their bases, with the county, the legislature, and the media. It sounds like they're ready to go to court as well, if necessary. Their positions and expectations are moderate and reasonable, while the developers are looking more and more ridiculous.

ozboy said...

If I'm not mistaken, one of the new Powderville councilpersons elected by the the Eden group - Ryan Bushell - is a lawyer? If so, let's hope that he remembers his Constitutional law courses.

He is the grandson of the late and great Stan Bushell, long time Chairman of Golden West Savings and ass kicker of pompous exploiters. Stan would be proud of this kid standing up to tyranny of this kind.

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