Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Powder Mountain Update: A Public Hearing Post-mortem

A collection of media reports, together with a couple of blogmeister observations

For those carefully following the developments at Powder Mountain resort, we've found three informative articles this morning, reporting on last night's Weber County Commission public hearing agenda.

The Salt Lake Tribune's Kristen Moulton provides her writeup here.

The Standard-Examiner's Brooke Nelson story can be viewed here.

During last night's meeting, both the Commission and the Developer's representative framed the discussion as if there were only two alternatives on the table, i.e., 1) Approval of a County Commission/Powder Mountain development agreement, or alternatively, 2) Completion of Powderville town incorporation under the terms of the original SB 466.

Ogden Valley Forum has a thoughtful article on the subject this morning too, which delves into a discussion of a third alternative which goes beyond the two options listed above -- litigation in federal court. From this morning's OVF article:

You have to admire the chutzpah of the Powder Mountain people. They are trying to hold a gun to the head of the Weber County Commission and Weber County citizens by threatening to go forward with the incorporation petition if they don't get everything they want, including the additional units beyond what they asked for originally.
We in the Valley have news for Powder Mountain and Weber County. Bring on the Incorporation! It is very likely that a Federal Court will see things differently on the incorporation and the denial of the civil rights of Weber County citizens due to the ill advised HB466. A Federal Court case could tie up the process for years and during that time, Powder Mountain can sit on its assets.
Read Ogden Valley Forum's full morning article here. It's short but sweet, with a flavor resembling a citizen manifesto. Yes, litigation remains a viable alternate -- perhaps the most viable alternative of all. Moreover, this "hanging alternative," (a "wildcard alternative" if you will), is just the kind of option that's likely to keep both the County and the Developer at the bargaining table.

Your blogmeister also attended last night's meeting, and had originally intended to write his own article on the topic. Thanks to the hard work of the authors above however, all of the important issues arising at last night's hearing are embodied within one of the above articles or another.

We'll nevertheless throw in our own two bits, with a couple of observations we made during last night's two hour meeting:

1) Last night's hearing was a wonderful demonstration of openness, transparency and democracy in government, we believe. No fewer than 25 concerned citizens made their way to the podium last night to make their comments, and lodge their objections to the skeletal draft proposal which was presented by the developer. One of these citizens actually made a second trip to the microphone, without any objection from Commissioner Zogmeister, Commission Chair. Although an electronic 3-minute clock prominently ticked away in one corner of the commission chamber, it was quite clear that nobody was watching the clock. Our County Commissioners listened intently to the sometimes long-winded citizens, leaving your blogmeister with the distinct impression that the commissioners were quite interested in all citizen input which was offered. We believe this impression was shared by most hearing attendees. After the hearing, scores of citizens remained in the chamber and hallways for an impromptu post-mortem; and it seemed to us that everyone was "all smiles." Everyone got to "speak their minds;" nobody got shut down in mid-sentence upon the running of the three-minute clock. There are lessons in this for other local government officials, we think (wink-wink).

2) Commissioner Dearden performed with particular distinction, we believe. Upon the conclusion of the meeting he pressed the Developer's representative for a "date certain" by which a complete written copy of the Developer's proposed agreement could be furnished to the commission, for posting on the Weber County government website. After some hemming and hawing, the Developer's representative agreed to furnish such a document "within a week."

Not only that, Dearden closed the meeting with this final comment (and parting shot) to the Developer: "I'd suggest that you take another look at density." Project density, of course, was one of the two prime objections (along with inadeqate roads) raised by many of the concerned citizens last night. With Commissioner Dearden's pointed admonition, it was clear to most in attendance, we think, that Commissioner Dearden is carefully looking after the citizens' interests.

We'll now open the floor for reader comments. Let's hear from other meeting attendees who might want to throw in their own two cents.

7 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

Thanks for the report, and for the OVF link. Very interesting too that, evidently, as of last night, the County Commission didn't have a copy of the developer's [you should excuse the expression] "compromise" plan in hand, and so could not make it available to the public either. It's promised in no less than a week. We shall see.

I'd also be curious to see some explanation of how a massive development at Powder Mountain, including something well north of 3000 additional residential units, would enhance Ogden's economy or reputation as an outdoor adventure destination. Presuming all those units get built and thousands upon thousands of additional skiers stay in them, I'm hard put to see what benefit Ogden will derive from all of that, other than an increase in air pollution as the thousands drive through town on the way to, and from, their lodgings at Powder Mountain. Hizzonah might have a case if Powder Mountain did not yet exist as a significant ski venue, and someone proposed building it. But it does exist, it is already "in the mix" so to speak as part of Ogden's "it's all within reach" campaign. All the expansion seems likely to do is make it more likely that PM skiers will stay there, instead of here. Just how do we gain from that?

Knight Rider said...

Mayor Godfrey does not live in Ogden Valley nor does he care about the long term ramifications of the excessive density increase requested by Powder Mountain. I wonder how he would feel if all the proposed traffic went by his house?

Another point, while Dearden appears to have tried to reach a reasonable solution, it looks to us that it was a one way conversation. The net result is Powder Mountain want more density units (41% more than their original rezone request) with no solution to the road access for the 4888 units in both Cache and Weber County.

I say go ahead an incorporate, we will have our day in Court!

Squirt said...

Does anyone realize how much water is required for two 18 hole golf courses at 7,000 ft. Altitude in the second driest state in the United States. Millions of gallons will be required for those months when we can least afford the water depletion. In addition, does PM intend to risk their investment by not having snow making equipment? I don't think so. That means more water usage at the expense of the rest of Weber County.

Monotreme said...

Curm:

Professional courtesy, or as the old saying has it, "honor among thieves"?

can't sleep said...

Powder Mountain isn't the only scandal around. Scanning around recent issues of the Salt Lake Tribune, I found an interesting review of a book coming out about our very own Snowbasin and Earl Holding. Go to SLTrib.com, click on NEWS, click on PAST EDITIONS, click on SUNDAY, scroll down to the FEATURES section and click on WHO'S LISTENING. It is the third from the bottom under FEATURES.

Curmudgeon said...

A link to the story "can't sleep" discusses above is here.

Caesare said...

The sad thing is the 3 Weber County Commission members could be hero's to their constituents if they had the guts to stand up and refuse the development plan as presented the other night, and then deny the incorporation petition since it takes away the basic rights of citizens in their County. Let PM sue the County. we want to hear PM argue in court that individual rights of citizens don't matter!

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