Story & photos by Josh Ruggles
LOGAN — Almost every seat in the historic Cache County Courthouse was filled Thursday evening as the Cache County Board of Adjustments addressed an appeal to deny a conditional use permit for the Cherry Peak Ski Area in Richmond.
And after representatives from the appellants and the developers made their arguments, the meeting resulted in a continuance in order for the board to further review the controversial issue.
“It is simple to look at the record and see, without question, that the commission properly consulted the standards and had sufficient data and support to make an informed decision,” said Chris Daines, the attorney representing the developers.
A group of Richmond residents filed the appeal on Feb. 15, arguing that the County Planning Commission made the decision on a whim and did not take into consideration the negative impacts of the resort. The attorney for the appellants, Kirk Robinson refuted claims that the commission spent adequate time reviewing the facts and making an educated decision.
“What I think needs to be done, is real illumination,” Robinson said. “And that requires real looking at the data and thinking about it.”
Josh Ruhaar, Cache County’s director of development services, discussed in depth, the process the commission went through to approve the permit.
“There is no debate that there will be some impact to habitat from the resort, any development will have impacts. The planning commission is there to make a decision, and they did,” Runhaar said.
Dr. Michael Wolfe, emeritus professor of wildlife ecology and management at Utah State University, voiced his professional opinion about the inherent impacts that will and could be caused.
“There are going to be impacts on the area itself, but it’s private property. I think there are going to be significant negative impacts outside the resort; mainly on the road leading to it,” Wolfe said. “However, I do not take a stand for or against it.”
The meeting came to a close after board member Hal Olsen made a motion for continuation. “This is a lot to take in, I would like to have some time to look everything over, in order to make the best decision,” Olsen said.
If Cherry Peak is approved, it will be the only local competition to Beaver Mountain Ski Area, the closest local resort to Cache Valley.
“I think the process is fine. You and I don’t have the right to tell people how they should handle their property,” said Ted Seeholzer, owner of Beaver Mountain. “Personally, I am glad I don’t have money in it. It’s a hard time to start something like this.”
The board will decide the fate of Cherry Peak at its meeting March 29 at 6 p.m. at the courthouse.