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Permit for proposed Richmond ski resort still on hold with Cache P&Z

December 4th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By Mandy Morgan

LOGAN — The Cache County Planning and Zoning Commission reached no conclusion Thursday night concerning a conditional use permit for a proposed ski resort in Richmond.

Chairman J. Clair Ellis said because no official plan had been compiled and completed, with every part of the master plan finalized, it was not possible to vote on granting a permit. The vote will take place when a plan is put together and completely finalized, he said.

A proposal for the ski resort was brought to the commission a year ago, but then withdrawn by the developer before being brought back again recently. It was brought back with a master plan, which had been reevaluated and made to accommodate an estimated 1,000 skiers each day.

All that the commission decided on at Thursday’s meeting was to discuss significant points that needed to be resolved, other than the bigger issues that are under evaluation with the master plan. Some of these points included mitigation of impacts to roadways, water run-off problems, and the treatment of wildlife and vegetation.

“They’ve agreed that during the summer there’ll be vegetation for deer and so on,” Commissioner Phillip K. Olsen said, “and I think as long as we require them to, where there’s any damage that’s may have been done that that’s all replanted.”

Olsen, a farm owner himself, believes that vegetation and wildlife near the area of the proposed resort are going to be OK in the end. “Wildlife adapt, they really do. I think they’ll adapt no matter what,” he said.

“There have been concerns about a ski resort being placed next to wilderness area. But we having farming and housing that goes into the wilderness areas,” Planning & Zoning Administrator Josh Runhaar said. “There is no buffer to these wilderness areas; we cannot impose a buffer on these wilderness areas.”

To Runhaar, the main concern is for the wildlife in the area and figuring out ways to take care of it as skiing is taking place, instead of how the roads are going to affect everything.

However, to a number of commissioners, the roads were a part of the plan worth discussing. An increase in traffic is expected with the ski resort’s operation, and as of now the road leading to the resort is inadequate for the projected traffic increase, according to county policy.

The road, starting at about 1010 N. 1850 East, would need to be widened from 20 to 22 feet, with new pavement. The owners of the resort have worked with the county to meet the standard in building the road. In the master plan it is officially noted that there will be 22 feet of paved road next to the stretch where there is a steep area, and 24 feet paved outside of the this area.

“We have chip-sealed roads all over the county, and they work well,” Runhaar said. “That is how this road will also be paved when it is done.”

However, the roads are one of the lesser problems that Runhaar feels that they have to deal with. There some conditions included in the master plan that need to be met for the resort to be working in full condition when opened, he said.

When it comes to water, for there is a necessary 1 million gallons of water needed per year for the culinary water supply, and 7.5 million gallons are needed for snow-making. The only portion that needs to be passed by the commission, however, is the water needed for the culinary water supply.

“The water for snow-making falls outside of our ordinance,” Runhaar said. “And honestly if they don’t have enough water for snow-making it doesn’t affect the base level of service that they have to provide in the facility, they just won’t make enough snow — which is probably business impact.”

What the county is asking for is simply culinary water supply, as of now — however that works out, Runhaar said. “They’ve got some existing connections in Richmond; they’re going outside for the rest of the water that they need. They will need to work that out prior to the ski resort operating.”

When it comes to the substantial projected flow that will come down the mountain from the snow-making, solutions are still unclear. Runhaar, and others on the commission, have been working with people from the state to look at the water in the area, because the requirements are complicated when it comes to watershed issues.

“The interesting thing about snow-making is that the state will not require 100 percent water share, because they view that as 90 or 93 percent turn-back to the watershed,” Runhaar said.

Though the owners of the resort are saying 7.5 million gallons are needed for snow-making, the water they need for that is only a fraction of that, Runhaar said. However, it has initially been decided that the water needed for snow-making is one of the least important issues at hand.

“I am encouraged with the mitigations in this proposal, I think that we’re going on the right track,” Commissioner Chris Allen said. Other members of the commission were also positive about the master plan heading in the right direction.

“As long as we go by fact and not by emotion, that we can come to a solution with this,” Olsen said. “I think it’s been studied very well, there’s been a lot of issues addressed.”

Services included in the entire resort would include ticket sales, a ski repair shop, a small restaurant, small retail sales, restrooms, and ski storage facilities, according to the plan.

The discussion will be continued at the January commission meeting.

NW

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