|Ogden Valley News
|In Copyright (InC)
|SR Communications DBA, Eden, Utah
|Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah
|Ogden Valley News
Volume VI, Issue I THE OGDEN VALLEY NEWS Page 5 April 15, 2002 MOUNTAIN cont. from page 1 demand for $1 million home sites go through the roof. Ferrin and his investors—including his brother, Mark, who lives in Ogden Valley’s Liberty—have an option to buy Powder Mountain from the Alvin Cobabe family, which has owned and built the small resort over 30 years. The option expires July 15, and its exercise will depend on whether one of the two counties approves Ferrin’s zoning and master plan. One of the real attractions, Ferrin says, is that the property can be developed without the intense bartering that resorts on national forest land must go through. “Twelve thousand acres of privately owned property with an existing ski area just doesn’t exist,” he says. “That’s the attraction of Powder Mountain.” Ferrin says he is already finding interest among Park City and Deer Valley residents who feel hemmed in. At Powder Mountain, the lot sizes for the 500 homes would average five acres, he says, so there would be plenty of open space for wildlife corridors. Ferrin envisions $4 million homes, on average. Each would have access to one of 15 ski lifts and twothirds would also have access to golf courses along the plateau near the ridge. The 1,000 to 1,500 condos and town houses, valued at around $1 million apiece, would be clustered on ski runs, and two villages with a total of two hotels and seven restaurants would go on each side of the county line. Two helicopter pads and a small airstrip on neighboring land are planned, along with an indoor equestrian arena. The golf courses, designed by Jack Nicklaus’ company, would use a capillary drip system that saves water and the entire project would retain and reuse water, he says. “We know that water is as precious as gold in these mountains,” Ferrin says. He also promises that no one in the Ogden or Cache valleys would have their mountain views obstructed. In fact, Powder Mountain is not even visible from the valley floors. “My position is as a caretaker rather than a developer because I love this land,” says Ferrin, who intends to live at Powder Mountain. But Sander Lazar of Save Our Canyons, a Salt Lake City-based environmental group opposed to the project, says putting a small city on a sensitive mountain ridge “is kind of like loving what you’ve got to death.” “There are better ways to bring people into the outdoors,” Lazar says. Besides concerns about the mountain, wildlife and watershed, Save Our Canyons also questions the wisdom of expanding a ski resort when the industry has been flat for 20 years. “Basically, they’re stealing from other resorts,” Lazar says. “It’s ridiculous.” Ferrin concedes Powder Mountain might take skiers from existing resorts. But he says the project does not depend on increasing the number of skiers, 100,000 to 125,000 per year. Skiing would be a subsidized amenity for the homeowners and visitors. Lowery, who lives in Avon north of Powder Mountain, has heard Ferrin’s pitch. She has even had a real estate agent for a landowner next to Powder Mountain twist her arm to back the project. He offered to show her the wonders of a gated community like that proposed for Powder Mountain. She figures it’s the glamour of having a ritzy resort nearby that most captivates the project’s supporters in the Cache Valley. But, she says, that status would come at a great cost to her quiet ranching and bedroom community and eventually the entire county. For years, the 700 residents in the south Cache Valley have enjoyed solitude in winter when the steep, dirt road leading to Ogden Valley closes. In the summer, they haul their trailers and tents up the canyon to camp. “Our quality of life is better than they can even imagine,” Lowery says. “I’ve never thought of myself as an environmentalist until I started fighting this. Once it gets in, because there is so much private land on that mountainside and the owners are getting older, that development will come down into Cache Valley all along the mountainside.” Teuscher, Cache’s countywide planner, says those fears may be unfounded. Few other mountain sites are conducive to ski resorts and golf courses, he says. Besides, it may be foolhardy for Cache County to reject the project and let Weber County reap all the revenue, he says. An economic analysis—funded by Ferrin, Cache County and Logan—is under way to determine the benefits, but Ferrin says each county would probably get $10 million to $15 million a year in property taxes. But Teuscher dashes cold water on one of Ferrin’s hopes and valley residents’ fears: that the road linking Cache and Ogden valleys will be paved anytime soon. Ferrin sees the more dramatic Cache County entrance to Powder Mountain as a big sales point, and would consider building a road to link a paved Cache County road to the east side of the Powder Mountain project. But neither the state, which maintains the road to the end of the pavement at Avon, nor Cache County has money to improve or build a new road. Transportation—including the steep, narrow road into Powder Mountain—is one of the concerns Weber County’s Planning Commission will consider when it re-examines Ferrin’s proposed rezoning April 16, says Sharon Holmstrom, a commissioner from Eden. Holmstrom, who called the project “excessive” when Ferrin first appeared before the commission, says the county needs to decide whether it wants to follow a decades-old plan of preserving mountain areas as forests with minimal development and plenty of recreation. “We’re planners. We’re not just here to rezone everything,” Holmstrom says. “Our job is to plan the future of communities and make decisions that follow the good plan. Basically, there was a plan in place for the mountain areas.” But Weber planner Craig Barker says the county’s 1996 Ogden Valley plan opened the door for recreational resorts such as the one taking shape at Snowbasin, and now, Powder Mountain as well as Nordic Valley. “The potential for the development of that area has been there a long time,” he says. “If they have the capital to advertise and develop it as they want, they may surprise the county and it will go quicker than we think.” Kmoulton@sltrib.com Note: This copyrighted article first appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune on March 29, 2002, and is being reprinted by permission.