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Planning commission approves first subdivision in Wasatch Peaks Ranch ski resort

By Mark Shenefelt - | Oct 15, 2021

Image supplied, Morgan County Planning Commission

This map shows the proposed Wasatch Peaks Ranch ski resort subdivision area near Peterson.

MORGAN — The Morgan County Planning Commission on Thursday approved the first subdivision for the Wasatch Peaks Ranch resort development despite concerns about an ongoing legal fight that threatens the project.

Two residents pushing for a voter referendum on the 11,000-acre project, approved by the county commission in 2019, cautioned planners that approving subdivisions and other resort work could be risky for the county. That is because a 2nd District Court judge is expected to rule within the next few months on a resident group’s lawsuit seeking to revive the referendum question.

But commissioners, after discussing the referendum and other concerns, approved the proposed 50-lot subdivision, forwarding it on to the county commission for final approval. Commissioners said their role has no bearing on the simmering legal matters.

After the county commission two years ago approved a sweeping development agreement with Wasatch Peaks, five residents petitioned to gather signatures for a referendum, but the county clerk rejected the efforts, saying procedures were not followed. The Utah Supreme Court recently ruled in their favor on procedures governing court appeals, authorizing Judge Noel Hyde to decide the referendum’s fate.

Meanwhile, Wasatch Peaks sued six residents for $10 million apiece, alleging conspiracy and illegal business interference, but Hyde dismissed that suit.

Image supplied, Morgan County/YouTube

In this screenshot taken from video, Cindy Carter addresses the Morgan County Planning Commission on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.

On Thursday evening, Cindy Carter and Shelley Paige, two of those sued by Wasatch Peaks, warned planners that if the referendum effort is successful, the county may be stuck with consequences of a rejected development.

“I’m very concerned about your decision, which is going to put the county responsible for some of those things,” Carter said. “The referendum should be settled before we continue to allow this kind of development, which could very well get turned right around.”

Paige, who said she felt a “moral obligation” to fight for a referendum vote on such a major project, urged the county to be skeptical of Wasatch Peaks’ financial ability to complete the ambitious development.

Ed Schultz, Wasatch Peaks managing director, said the development agreement allows the company to build up to 750 lots, but they decided to start with “a bite-size chunk” of 50 lots in a 483-acre area. He said the subdivision plan meets the terms of the agreement and the county code. He did not refer to the referendum disputes.

In response to a question about its sewer plans, Schultz said the resort has created its own sewer district. He said the resort recently signed an agreement with the Mountain Green Sewer Improvement District to process the resort’s gray water, the resort in return helping to pay for upgrades to the Mountain Green system.

Wasatch Peaks, which covers a large swath of Morgan County’s southwest skyline above Peterson, is set to include ski runs, golf courses, housing and other resort amenities. The resort is intended for high-end members who will buy in to the exclusive community. County officials said the project will help the local economy and benefit the tax base, but the referendum backers say they are worried about environmental and quality of life impacts.

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