Green Valley Academy

In 2011 the VCRD will Support the Huntsville homeowners in their fight against the placing of an academy for (troubled youths?) within a residential setting. VCRD members will be working with the county’s planning staff and the GEM committee to present a revision of the zoning ordinance associated with such an academy.

 

Proposed Snowbasin Rezone

Letter to Ogden Valley Planning Commission on behalf of VCRD

 

OGDEN VALLEY PLANNING COMMISSION September 28, 2010

 

As a Board member of the Valley Citizens for Responsible Development (VCRD), I have been asked to comment on Snowbasin’s Rezone application (the app), as amended. I have reviewed the app at length, along with the addenda just received yesterday.

 

In general, the app is well done and the master plan is a good one. Given Snowbasin’s history of quality design and build, it is to be expected that when and as built, the project will be one of which both Snowbasin and Weber County can be proud. There is one element, however, that in our view is deeply flawed and should be rejected and removed from the rezone, for all the reasons which follow until and unless it is radically changed. That element is that portion of Area G that sits on the Valley floor, at and near the intersection of Trapper’s Loop and S.R. 39. For convenience, this area will be referred to as Area G, with the understanding that except as noted, the comments refer to only the “Valley floor” portion thereof.

 

Even as amended to cut the size of its commercial element in half, Area G flies in the face of the General Plan, the Resort Zone Ordinance of 2005 and, it is anticipated, the upcoming TDR ordinance. In point of fact, Area G turns these generally well-conceived planning devices on their heads, and thwarts their essential purposes, to the detriment of Ogden Valley.

 

It is well understood and accepted that a fundamental principle of all three is that development on the Valley floor is to be minimized, and resort development in the mountains, away from the Valley floor, is to be maximized. The reasons for adherence to this principle are manifest, and no one to our knowledge seriously disputes them. In fact, every important provision fostering resort development, such as multipliers of development rights when they are moved from the Valley floor to resort areas, support the principle.

 

What Snowbasin proposes in Area G, however, takes development rights from the Valley floor, multiplies them manyfold by the mechanisms provided in the ordinances (the wisdom of which in many cases is highly questionable, but that is a discussion for another day) and then places them RIGHT BACK ON THE VALLEY FLOOR! The app accomplishes precisely the opposite of what the General Plan and its supporting ordinances attempt to do, and should be rejected on that basis alone.

 

The TDR ordinance has yet to be adopted, but we are aware that one of its concepts is that of the creation of “sending” and “receiving” zones, such that development rights would be transferred from sending zones, perhaps multiplied by legitimate incentives, to receiving zones. Whenever these concepts are discussed, the underlying rationale is that the sending zones are on and near the Valley floor, and the receiving zones in more remote areas, in order to preserve the rural look and feel of Ogden Valley. It is inconceivable that sending and receiving zones would both be placed on the Valley floor, yet this is precisely what the Snowbasin app does. How embarrassing it will be when the TDR ordinance is finally written and adopted that the single largest application of its provisions, Snowbasin, flouts those very provisions, if the app is approved as submitted.

 

Disregarding for the moment the “mixed use” (read: commercial) parcel on the newly-submitted addendum rendering, and considering only the residential parcels easily viewed from and constituting a part of the Valley floor, Snowbasin intends to build residences of varying types on 98.1 acres. Under current zoning, those 98.1 acres could sustain 32.7 residences on the Valley floor. The app, however, contemplates 223 residences on those same acres, on the Valley floor, not even counting the 80.000 square feet of commercial space that will come with them if the app is approved! That makes no sense whatsoever given the scheme set out in the planning documents, and should be rejected out of hand.

 

It is not as if Snowbasin is somehow short of developable land on either side of Trappers Loop from one end to the other, whether in Weber or Morgan counties. What possible justification can there be for jamming artificially-multiplied density right back on Ogden Valley’s floor? Those extra two hundred residences, and indeed much if not all of the commercial development, could be put anywhere along Trappers Loop with zero impact on the Ogden Valley floor, and should be.

 

As to the commercial portion of Area G, let’s be honest: that element of the plan is no more a part of the Snowbasin Resort than the Country Store and the Sinclair gas station at the Mountain Green end of Trappers Loop. The rezone proposal is simply a convenient way to obtain blanket Weber County approval in advance of a purely commercial venture on the Valley floor, at the junction of not one, but two, Scenic Byways. Some preservation of the rural atmosphere of the Valley that constitutes. The rationale that it will serve the patrons of the built-out resort rings fairly hollow, given that it is placed on real estate farthest from the main resort. It virtually mandates vehicle travel when an important part of the app purports to be creation of minimal-vehicle-use amenities.

 

In all, it is strongly urged that the OVPC as a condition of its approval of the app either require Snowbasin to move what now constitutes The Ranch, or Area G, further south on Trappers, up the hill and around the bend so as to reduce its visual and vehicular impact on the Valley floor, or  simply carve out of what Snowbasin would call its resort, that portion of Area G at and near the intersection of Trappers and S.R. 39 that really is not a part of its resort at all.

 

One salutary result of excluding that section from the resort app is that it would likely foster further cooperation and discussion between Snowbasin and Huntsville Town of Huntsville’s annexation of that area. If the idea of annexation to Huntsville continues to be resisted by Snowbasin, the entire area west of the intersection, which by all rights should ultimately become a part of Huntsville Town, will in all likelihood remain unincorporated, and  commercial development along S.R. 39 to the east and north of the intersection will become a hodgepodge of small, ill-planned strip centers.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Frank J. Cumberland

On behalf of Ogden Valley Citizens for Responsible Development

 

 

 

 

 

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