Local leaders to scrutinize Nordic Valley gondola plans if they proceed

Tuesday , June 26, 2018 - 5:15 AM10 comments

NORTH OGDEN — When he learned of Nordic Valley’s proposed 4.3-mile gondola connecting North Ogden and the ski resort in the Ogden Valley, North Ogden City Councilman Phillip Swanson reacted with surprise.

“I’m like, ‘Holy crud, what is this?’” he said.

There had been informal talks of such a plan, but nothing with the sort of detail included in a Nordic Valley plan the resort recently posted online, at nordicvalleyproject.com, he and others said. Whatever the case, if the project is to proceed, the varied elements will likely be getting scrutiny from a multitude of players, including the North Ogden City Council, Weber County commissioners, local planning officials and more.

RELATED: Nordic Valley's lofty expansion plans go online, but many questions remain

“They have got so many public hurdles,” Swanson said. “There’s no way this could happen in the dark.”

Likewise, Weber County Commissioner Jim Harvey said county officials could have a role in the project’s development, if, as it appears in the plans, it were to encroach on unincorporated county land. At any rate, he knows of no formal requests put to county leaders thus far related to the plans.

“I’m anxious to learn more,” Harvey said. Expanding on Swanson’s comments that the plans, elements anyway, would get close scrutiny from local leaders, Harvey said he’d welcome input from residents in the impacted areas — North Ogden and the Upper Valley area.

County Commissioner James Ebert said Brent Taylor, then North Ogden’s mayor, approached county commissioners about the development idea a year or year-and-a-half ago, inquiring about the possibility of the city annexing the unincorporated land encompassing the proposal. If the land were in North Ogden city limits, the city’s zoning rules would apply, Ebert said, which would allow for denser residential development, bearing on the project’s potential profitability.

Some 300 to 400 new housing units near the Nordic Valley facilities were in the proposal Taylor outlined, Ebert said, and Ebert said he expressed hesitancy about annexation without first letting adjacent Upper Valley residents sound off. “I’m unwilling to do an annexation without having direct input from Upper Valley residents,” he said.

He hadn’t heard anything more about the proposal until it resurfaced in the past week or so, Ebert said. Taylor, who’s currently on deployment with the Utah Army National Guard in Afghanistan, didn’t immediately respond to a question seeking comment.

Gage Froerer, a Utah House member from Huntsville who’s running for Ebert’s seat on the Weber County Commission in elections Tuesday, is partner in Nordic Valley Land Associates, which owns 50.5 acres of land directly east of the Nordic Valley ski resort.

He said in an email that the gondola proposal “has nothing to do with the property” owned by Nordic Valley Land Associates and referred additional questions to a representative of the company, who didn’t immediately respond to a query Monday seeking comment. Froerer didn’t respond to another inquiry about how he’d handle involvement in any issue related to the project as a commissioner if he were elected and county officials were called on to act.

RELATED: Weber Co. Commission hopeful Froerer rebuffs questions, criticism in campaign

Swanson, though, said if Froerer were elected commissioner and an issue related to the ski resort plans were to come to county commissioners for consideration, he and others would be watching closely. Depending on the specifics of the issue at hand, Swanson said, he would expect Froerer to declare a conflict of interest in voting on the issue or recuse himself given his stake in adjacent property.

Froerer, Ebert and James Couts are vying in Tuesday’s Republican primary for seat A on the Weber County Commission. With no Democrats running, Tuesday’s winner will likely take the seat in the next term.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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