Luxury 'heli-ski' lots begin selling above Huntsville

Saturday , June 07, 2014 - 5:55 PM

Construction could begin as early as next month on homes at The Sanctuary Ranch, a luxury heli-ski development in the hills above Huntsville.

Steve Parkinson, a planner with the Weber County Planning Division, says the developer has gotten all the necessary approvals from the county and can now proceed with the project. It’s been a development nearly a decade in the making.

About 10 years ago, Tim Charlwood purchased 520 acres above Green Hill Country Estates, east of Huntsville. The Park City man’s ultimate goal is to create a private, gated community of 13 homesites bordering 10,000 acres of forest service land. He hopes to provide residents with an appealing, secluded home base for outdoor activities like heli-skiing, horseback riding, hiking, fishing and other outdoor activities.

Charlwood said construction on the first couple of houses could begin as early as four to six week from now. Initially, he expects eight homes — each on a 40-acre site — to be built. A second phase, higher up on the mountainside, could add another five homes.

“There’s been a subtle change that people don’t even see up here, of wealthy people moving in for a way of life,” Charlwood said of the Ogden Valley. His development is targeted toward these folks.

Charlwood says he’s placed much of the land in a trust, in order to preserve it.

“I am a great believer in land trusts, and there’s a reason why you do it — you do it for the right reasons,” he said. “And few people really understand that.”

Charlwood acknowledges that land trusts have received some negative press, but he believes it’s key to the success of The Sanctuary Ranch.

“What I’ve done is taken every homesite, and I have a small, buildable pad at each,” Charlwood said. “But the vast majority of the land is dedicated to the trust. It can’t be developed, it can’t be built up, you can’t hunt on it, you can’t put snowmobiles on it.”

He sees the trust as a way to protect and preserve the land.

“A lot of the things I’ve done for the trust is to stop big-money boys from forcing their way in and making this another Deer Valley,” Charlwood said. “I do not want a Deer Valley up here.”

The land is in an F-40 zone, which basically means a forested area requiring 40 acres per lot.

Charlwood is also limiting home sizes to 6,500 square feet — “that’s a huge house by any standards,” he acknowledges, “but that’s the limit” — in an attempt to make the development environmentally friendly.

“I had a big guy come up here, he flew me in his helicopter — he’s a big heli-skier — and he said, ‘My home’s got to be nine and a half thousand’ square feet,’ ” Charlwood recalls. “And I said, ‘Well, you’re going to have to buy two then, aren’t you?’ ”

Charlwood said potential buyers aren’t just purchasing 40 acres.

“You’re buying into 520 shared acres,” he said. “And that’s the key to another 10,000 acres surrounding it.”

In addition to a helicopter pad for heli-skiing — “a huge draw,” Charlwood says — there will also be a shared equestrian area at the development.

Planner Parkinson says there may have been some early opposition to the project, but he hasn’t seen any recently.

“I think the initial part, he may have had problems,” Parkinson said. “But this latest one, we didn’t have anybody come and complain about it, or talk about it, for or against.”

Parkinson suspects the low-key nature of the project may have something to do with that.

“He’s only talking eight lots that are on the other side of the mountain from everybody else,” he said. “There’s not a lot that they’ll see, other than the few vehicles coming up every so often.”

Charlwood said much of the opposition to his development stemmed from a misunderstanding about who owned the land.

“Years and years ago, some people thought this was open space,” Charlwood said. “But it is — and has been — private land.”

Beyond that, the developer thinks he’s simply had to earn the locals’ trust.

“It’s taken years for people to understand that I’m not going to do anything stupid up here,” he said.

Charlwood says what he’s learned in the process is to “underdevelop, undersize and be sensitive” to the potential impacts of the project. He believes there’s been a shift to “something different” among these sorts of developments, and that lifestyle, recreation and the environment top the that agenda.

“Lifestyle, recreation and the environment — put that together and you can’t go wrong, can you?” Charlwood said. “And, I think this is something to be pretty proud of, too.”

The Sanctuary Ranch lots start at $995,000, and go up from there. Charlwood also has builders lined up who can build to suit. One conceptual home is offered at $3.9 million for the finished product. The developer is confident that several of the lots will sell within 90 days.

“Being realistic, we could be moving people in by February,” Charlwood said.

Charlwood says Weber County has been helpful throughout the process, and Parkinson returns the compliment.

“He’s been great to work with, and very straightforward and upfront in what his intentions are,” Parkinson said.

“And, he’s got some great sites up there.”

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Like him on Facebook at

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