OGDEN — The North Ogden residents who sued the city over construction of an amphitheater in a park in their neighborhood have dropped their case, ending the legal tussle.
Second District Court Judge Noel Hyde, who’s based in Ogden, dismissed the case Tuesday after the two sides reached accord to end the legal fight, filed by three couples last February as work on the new facility was still underway.
The city of North Ogden asked that the neighbors pay the city’s legal costs, around $13,000, after Hyde ruled last May against their call for a temporary court order to halt the amphitheater work. Per the agreement to resolve the case, though, each side will handle its own legal fees.
Construction of the amphitheater in Barker Park, launched in late 2017, has been a heated topic in North Ogden. Aaron Christensen, his wife and two other couples filed their suit, worried the new entertainment venue, replacing a much smaller amphitheater, would bring noise and disruption to their quiet residential neighborhood. They filed their suit only after officials approved project plans and work commenced, questioning the procedure city leaders followed in bringing the project to fruition.
City officials countered, saying they took all key actions leading up to the amphitheater’s construction in public and did everything legally. The public had opportunity to sound off before work began.
Still, Jon Call, the city attorney, said North Ogden officials come out of the legal brouhaha with a changed outlook on how to pursue such projects.
“I think the city is going to work harder on trying to get the word out on larger projects like this one. I do think the city did a good job of trying new ways to get the word out, but it wasn’t always heard by those who ended up not wanting the project,” Call said in an email Wednesday.
Christensen didn’t immediately respond to a request Wednesday for comment. But Tuesday’s court decision doesn’t necessarily end the debate over the amphitheater.
The first stage of amphitheater work finished last July, with completion of a new stage, covered by a distinctive wavy roof. That cost $1.85 million.
More work is to be done, requiring more money, however, and future steps will likely be a focus of discussion at city hall. The enclosed space behind the stage needs work to turn it into dressing rooms, storage space and more, while plans also call for new sound and lighting systems.
“City staff is currently preparing information for the council to consider what amount, if any, they would like to put towards finishing the inside of the amphitheater building,” Call said. City staffers had originally included $700,000 in the 2019 city budget to cover the cost of additional work, but it “was removed at the council’s request until more details could be gathered.”
Officials have also been debating the guidelines that will govern use of the amphitheater, aiming to be mindful of the concerns of neighbors.