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Morgan County moves again to block Wasatch Peaks resort referendum

By Mark Shenefelt - | Dec 2, 2022

Photo supplied, Wasatch Peaks Ranch

This undated photo shows a portion of the Wasatch Peaks Ranch private ski resort development area in Morgan County.

MORGAN — Attorneys for Morgan County and Wasatch Peaks Ranch have filed documents asking that a judge nullify a proposed voter referendum on the massive private ski development.

The county clerk at the time, Stacy Netz Clark, invalidated six residents’ application for the referendum petition in November 2019, citing various procedural flaws. Under a referendum, voters would decide whether to approve or overturn the county council’s October 2019 approval of a development agreement with Wasatch Peaks authorizing the 11,000-acre ski and golf resort area development above Peterson.

The residents filed a civil suit challenging Clark’s finding. After a series of rulings in 2nd District Court and the Utah Supreme Court, 2nd District Judge Noel Hyde ruled this year that the referendum application substantially complied with state law, but he said further issues remained to be addressed.

On Nov. 23, Morgan County Attorney Garrett Smith filed a motion urging Hyde to grant summary judgment against the referendum. He said referendum sponsors must strictly comply with statutory requirements and in this case they did not do so, by not attaching a copy of the ordinance in question to the application; by not meeting the notarization requirement; and by missing the deadline (by four minutes).

Wasatch Peaks, an intervenor against the referendum litigation, on Nov. 30 filed a court document endorsing the county’s arguments.

It now will fall to Hyde to grant the summary judgment motion or send the case on to trial.

One of the referendum sponsors, Whitney Croft, filed a court affidavit in 2020 saying that the petitioners were unable to get a copy of the ordinance in time because it was not available. However, the county last month filed affidavits from Clark and other clerk’s officials saying the ordinance had been available for the asking for a week before the deadline.

As for the four-minute missed deadline, Croft argued that the clocks in the county offices were routinely not synchronized.

In tandem with the referendum battle itself, Wasatch Peaks and the citizens’ group are locked in a legal struggle over Wasatch Peaks’ assertions that the referendum backers have severely damaged the resort economically.

Hyde earlier dismissed WPR’s economic-interference lawsuit against the six residents — leading to the current dispute, a request by the residents to obtain information about WPR’s finances so they can pursue a claim for punitive damages against the developer. The residents assert the developer waged a coordinated intimidation campaign to thwart the referendum.


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