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Marriott-Slaterville residents hit roadblocks in pushback against BDO construction

By Tim Vandenack - | Nov 18, 2021
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Seven new warehouses are taking shape on the east side of 1200 West inside Business Depot Ogden, pictured here on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Many neighbors across the street, within Marriott-Slaterville, decry the development.
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Seven new warehouses are taking shape on the east side of 1200 West inside Business Depot Ogden, pictured here on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Many neighbors across the street, within Marriott-Slaterville, decry the development.
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Seven new warehouses are taking shape on the east side of 1200 West inside Business Depot Ogden, pictured here on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Many neighbors across the street, within Marriott-Slaterville, decry the development.

MARRIOTT-SLATERVILLE — As several new warehouses take shape along 1200 West inside Business Depot Ogden, residents across the street are hitting roadblock after roadblock in their efforts to push back against the plans.

“It’s a huge frustration for us to sit here,” said Kerry Wayne, one of many vocal residents who have been railing against the expansion to the east of their homes on what had been an open field. “It’s watching your neighborhood being destroyed 24/7 and not being able to do a thing.”

Notably, he said reps from the Utah Department of Commerce’s Office of the Property Rights Ombudsman won’t intervene. Neighbors had asked the agency to get involved to serve as a mediator in efforts to hash out the matter with BDO and reps from the City of Ogden, owner of the industrial park. “They were basically saying nobody’s guaranteed a view,” Wayne said, alluding to a key complaint that the new warehouses, some up to 45 feet tall, block neighbors’ view of the Wasatch Front mountains to the east.

Wayne said he’s reached out to a slew of elected officials, from U.S. Rep. Blake Moore on down, so far without much headway. Noise and light late at night and early in the morning from work crews have also riled the neighbors.

Meantime, Aaron Austad, the BDO general manager, reiterated that the development plans comply with all the applicable rules and guidelines. “It is compliant. We’ve followed all the zoning ordinances with Ogden City,” he said.

He also countered environmental concerns raised by some residents stemming, in part, from the appearance last spring of workers in hazardous material suits on the project site. The seven warehouses are taking shape on a 42.4-acre parcel of BDO land stretching along the east side of 1200 West from 400 North south past West 2nd Street to the northern periphery of the Ogden Nature Center.

The BDO grounds were previously home to the Ogden Defense Depot, a military warehousing facility activated in 1941, and were focus of significant federal environmental cleanup efforts after the military left. That history — the property is listed as a superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — has some of the neighbors to the west worried, including Lori Jones.

Jones noted an “absolute stench” emanating from the site earlier during the development process and both she and Wayne note all the movement of dirt and digging that has occurred on the land. A canal once ran through the land where the new warehouses are taking shape, which some of the neighbors say was a repository for a considerable amount of waste.

The digging, some neighbors fear, may have broken through a protective layer in the earth meant to keep dangerous substances below the surface, allowing them into the air.

“It makes us worried they breached the barrier that they set up,” Jones said. Neighbors, she said, “have no idea how they came to the conclusion it was safe to build here.”

Austad, though, countered the concerns. The BDO, indeed, faced environmental remediation because of contamination when used by the U.S. military, he said. But the efforts have been scaled back as the contaminants are removed.

The stench Jones smelled, he thinks, was probably weeds and other organic material removed from the grounds and piled earlier on in the development process along 12oo West. “It’s definitely not an environmental issue,” Austad said.

The workers in hazmat suits were probably from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contingent called in when two to three empty barrels were unearthed on the grounds. Some petroleum residue was found on the barrels, but they posed no significant threat or hazard and were removed, according to Austad.

Even so, neighbors like Jones, Wayne and others have their doubts. Several have submitted complaints with the EPA, Wayne said. They were forwarded to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and a rep from the state environmental agency will be visiting the site, according to Wayne.

“He is just going to do a visual inspection of the area to see what’s going on,” Wayne said.

Some of the neighbors, moreover, are to meet with some members of the Ogden City Council to discuss the matter, see if middle ground can be reached. Getting answers from Ogden and BDO reps, they say, has been difficult.

“It just goes in circles and you don’t get anywhere,” said Marriott-Slaterville City Attorney Bill Morris, who’s fielded numerous complaints on the matter from neighbors. Should the stench Jones and others smelled and hazmat-suited contingent witnessed earlier this year be a point of concern, he wonders? Should neighbors have been notified?

Austad said the seven warehouses should all be largely complete by next April. Eventually, a berm, trees and more vegetation will be placed between 1200 West and the new warehouses, which he hopes will temper some of the neighbors’ worries.

Tenants have been lined up for all but one of the warehouses. “Industrial real estate’s so hot right now that we can’t build buildings fast enough,” Austad said.

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