Nordic Valley owner pledges to retool condo design

Saturday , January 10, 2015 - 12:28 PM

EDEN — Amid outcry from neighbors, the new owner of Nordic Valley Ski Resort has vowed to regroup and come up with more subdued designs for his proposed Pine Canyon Lodge condominiums.

Josh Richards bought the struggling ski area in January 2014 with the intent to maximize its potential while retaining the cozy charm that has attracted area families for decades.

In early December, Richards detailed his plan for 54 condominiums — each with its own smaller rental “lockout” unit — to the Ogden Valley Planning Commission, seeking approval for a conditional use permit that would allow him to exceed the 25-foot height limit and go as high as 71 feet at the structure’s peak with an overall average height of 54 feet.

The planning board tabled that decision, and in its Jan. 6 session, Richards requested that the matter be delayed until Feb. 3 so he can address concerns and present an alternative.

Commission Chairman Pen Hollist said that the 54 condos with attached lockout units fully comply with the law and that the fire chief certified that firefighting equipment in the upper Ogden Valley is already adequate to service the new structure. The location of the building was adjusted to allow a full fire-access lane.

“So that’s off the table — we have analyzed that thoroughly,” Hollist said.

The building’s footprint has also been moved to at least 150 feet from any homes in the neighborhood, said Weber County Planner Ronda Kippen.

Nordic Valley is sandwiched between Snowbasin and Powder Mountain, which are both larger and taller. The Ogden Valley General Plan currently recommends progressive resort development and open space preservation for the area’s three ski destinations, Kippen said.

Richards’s plan for Pine Canyon Lodge includes 135 underground parking stalls. According to Kippen, he has 7.98 acres on which to build the proposed 3.2-acre complex.

Once constructed, Snowbasin’s commercial and residential projects will occupy about 20 percent of that resort’s developable area, while Powder Mountain’s residential and mixed-use projects will comprise about 24 percent. In Nordic Valley’s case, Kippen said that this building would take up about 1 percent of its recreation area. Richards has no master development plan yet that would place the condo project into the resort’s overall development context.

The developer’s perspective

Richards pointed out that the existing barn at Nordic Valley is 49 feet tall.

“I’ve asked our architect to go to great lengths to make sure that we have mitigated, as best we can, both light and height,” Richards said.

Hollist and others had expressed concerns that the tall condominiums would act as a lantern on the mountainside and interfere with a potential international night sky designation being sought for North Fork Park.

Richards pledged to use different materials for windows and also decrease their size.

“The intent is to take the light that would have emanated from the inside and reduce it by a minimum of 50 percent,” Richards said.

While planners can specify parameters for exterior lighting, interior lighting is beyond their purview. But Richards expressed his willingness to go beyond what’s required in order to address concerns. He also urged area residents to visit his office to converse and view plans firsthand.

The new building design that Richards will deliver to the county later this month is intended to blend better with its surroundings, he said, incorporating heavier roof lines that are lower to the ground.

“The bones and footprint of the building are the same,” Richards said, “but the lipstick has changed color.”

Neighbors sound off

“My home was built in 1977 and is located approximately 150 feet south of Nordic Valley Ski Resort,” Wanda Chilcott said, reminiscing about the serenity, peace and abundance of wildlife that used to surround her home.

But most of those animals and birds have been driven out, Chilcott lamented. She has also had to move her horse to Ogden “for his welfare.”

“I’m not opposed to progress as long as it is not at the expense of many others,” she said, noting increased noise, trash and intrusion due to ski resort operations and traffic.

Others asked that planners seriously consider the mountain’s stability and water flows.

The board obtained a statement from Nordic Valley Water that said it would agree to provide both drinking and firefighting water for the new condos.

“I don’t personally believe that they have the resources to deliver that water,” Hollist said, “but there’s not a darn thing we can do about it.”

Longtime Liberty resident and farmer Matt Clark pointed to the multiple water systems in the valley and their interdependence.

“There’s a lot of springs in Pine Canyon. You go rooting around in there and start messing around with the flow, what’s going to happen?” Clark said. “This is our lifestyle, we’ve carved a life in Liberty and we don’t want this taken away by these guys who want to do their little condominiums but then call it a village.”

Clark said that he runs out of irrigation water every August and is concerned about future supplies.

Hollist characterized water as the development issue in Ogden Valley, noting that a large study is already under way to quantify existing supplies.

“I believe it is a real issue, but there’s a much larger issue,” Hollist said. “Snow has not been abundant this year and I think it will be June — unless things change — that you run out of water to irrigate your ranch.”

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or cmckitrick@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.

What’s next:

On Feb. 3 at 5 p.m. the Ogden Valley Planning Commission is expected to vote on the conditional use permit for the Pine Canyon Lodge condominiums at Nordic Valley Ski Resort. The board meets in first floor Commission Chambers of the Weber Center, 2380 Washington Blvd., Ogden.

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