NORTH OGDEN — A request to state water officials to realign a segment of Coldwater Creek abutting the Village at Prominence Point development has generated an outpouring of concern and opposition from many who live around it.
It’s the latest point of controversy in the development’s evolution as the many townhomes and patio homes that make up Village at Prominence point take shape.
Monte Anderson, for one, whose backyard abuts Coldwater Creek opposite Village at Prominence Point, worries change will detract from the natural beauty of the waterway. He’s one of 11 people who had submitted comments as of Tuesday to the Utah Division of Water Rights expressing various degrees of criticism and concern about the plans.
“In the spring we are pleased to watch Mallard ducks with their ducklings swimming up and down the stream,” Anderson wrote in his comments. “If it is changed to a sterile manmade ditch devoid of any personality it will drive the ducks away from this area.”
The Division of Water Rights, part of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, has yet to weigh in. Public comments will be accepted until Nov. 30 and after that Division of Water Rights reps will review the application to alter the creek, according to Daren Rasmussen, stream alteration specialist with the division. He said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will also be reviewing the proposal as part of a separate process.
Village at Prominence Point developer Jack Barrett filed the request for a “stream alteration permit,” as it’s known, on Nov. 10. He seeks permission to realign a 154-foot segment of the creek to aid in home development on land adjacent to that creek section. The creek segment in question sits just south of 1900 North and west of 1825 North, a new street inside Village at Prominence Point. “The realignment of the Coldwater Creek will make the lots adjacent to the creek buildable,” reads the application.
Barrett or his representative handling the application didn’t immediately respond to queries seeking comment, but the plans submitted to the state indicate that a straight rock wall would be built on the northwestern side of the 154-foot creek segment, which currently features a series of slight curves. The plans indicate that four homes would be built on the Village at Prominence Point side of the creek in the segment.
Village at Prominence Point, on the west side of Washington Boulevard between 1900 North and Country Boy Drive, spurred considerable debate in North Ogden before the plans were approved in 2017. The development covers some 33 acres and calls for 600-plus housing units, including townhomes, apartments and patio homes, some already taking shape.
Chief among the concerns as officials debated the proposal were the likelihood of increased traffic, people and disruption in the residential area. But some have also focused on the importance of protecting Coldwater Creek, a coldwater stream that meanders along the west side of the development.
Paul Burnett, Utah water and habitat program director for Trout Unlimited, a conservation group, submitted comments lamenting what he said has been the lack of attention to preservation of the waterway. He’s served as an informal advisor to neighbors trying to protect the creek and asked in his letter that the application be rejected.
“The proposed action seems to follow past actions of simply pushing the stream into a new alignment with no consideration for channel shape, aquatic habitat or floodplain processes,” Burnett wrote. Instead, he proposes reconfiguring the lots in question so the waterway doesn’t have to be altered or leaving the land undeveloped.
The cold water of the creek serves as a habitat for trout, but it has faced continual threats due to alterations of the channel, Burnett maintains. Some portions of Coldwater Creek are actually covered east of Washington Boulevard because of development.
North Ogden Mayor S. Neal Berube also submitted a comment. He asked that any alterations fall within parameters outlined by the Division of Water Rights, which state that any change shouldn’t unreasonably affect the “natural stream environment” or endanger aquatic wildlife.
Other comments were more pointed.
Tamara Twitchell expressed concern that altering the creek would adversely impact the trout, blue heron and ducks that live in the creek or use it. The developers, she said, could instead change the road configuration inside Village at Prominence Point to create the space they need.
Terri McCulloch, head of a homeowners association abutting Village at Prominence Point, worries that if the waterway is straightened, water could flow more freely, adversely impacting wildlife. The curves of the stream “provide nooks and crannies” for nests and homes of wildlife.
“Prominence Point construction has misplaced many animals that lived in that area and it isn’t necessary to add more to the list,” she wrote.
Like Twitchell, McCulloch said the developer could alter the road configuration inside Village at Prominence Point to create the land needed for development of the lots in question. Similarly, Anderson wonders if the developer “did not do his due diligence” ahead of time to make sure the lots in question would be sized correctly.
“Are we being ask(ed) to pay for the builder’s lack of proper planning?” Anderson wrote.