Ogden Valley residents ponder incorporation as growth issues surge
EDEN — Talk of turning part of unincorporated Weber County into a city has again surged, this time in the Ogden Valley, where growth and development issues are a regular point of red-hot debate.
The aim, in part, would be to give residents more direct say in how the area grows and evolves. “The valley is awakening. It’s really good to see how many people are showing up at the meetings and saying, ‘Wait a minute,'” said Jan Fullmer, who lives in the area and is active in grassroots organizing efforts on the varied issues in the area.
A group of Ogden Valley residents started looking into the incorporation question last year, she said, and a meeting is set for Wednesday to publicly discuss the issue. It goes from 6-7:30 p.m. and will be held at Snow Crest Junior High School in Eden.
Mark Ferrin of Eden, a retired attorney, will lead the meeting “and explain the legal details of the incorporation process, including required actions and time frames,” reads a meeting notice, sent out by Fullmer.
Many of the details surrounding the apparent incorporation push have not yet been publicly released and Ferrin couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Monday. Broadly speaking, though, incorporation — which would have to be put to a vote of the public — would mean turning the area into a city with its own elected slate of leaders. As is, Weber County commissioners govern the area.
Talk of incorporation comes as a seeming nonstop series of issues surges in the area, home to three ski resorts and Pineview Reservoir. It’s a popular getaway spot given the natural beauty of the mountainous area, though some worry about runaway expansion.
Among other things, the presence of short-term rentals and the transient visitors they bring is a sore point for some permanent residents. Then there are the varied proposals — to develop a ski village around Nordic Valley and to expand the Wolf Creek Resort development, for instance — that would bring more housing and people. Snowbasin, moreover, plans to bring a Club Med resort to the ski resort grounds and is also edging ahead with a larger housing development plan.
With the exception of Huntsville, an incorporated town governed by a mayor and four-member town council, the Ogden Valley is unincorporated and, as such, governed by the Weber County Commission, a three-member elected body. The seven-member Ogden Valley Planning Commission is an advisory body to county commissioners, who appoint the planning officials, and frequently is the first body to take up controversial zoning and planning questions.
If the Ogden Valley were to incorporate — the precise boundaries of the incorporation plan haven’t been publicly revealed — the new city would have its own planning commission, Fullmer said, presumably giving local residents more power over its makeup. “I definitely think that’s part of it,” she said, alluding to the inspiration for the incorporation talk.
She also said data provided by Weber County indicates that Ogden Valley taxpayers provided around $1 million more in tax funds last year than what they got in actual county services.
Some residents of unincorporated western Weber County pushed for incorporation of that area, putting a ballot question to voters, Proposition 18, in 2020 elections. It failed by a 56%-44% margin.
Proposition 18 proponents had touted incorporation as a way for locals to better control the pace of future development in the area, overseen by county commissioners. Western Weber County, historically an agricultural area, is focus of more and more development as demand for housing grows, to the chagrin of some who fear the zone’s country feel will be lost.
In the western Weber County effort, those pushing the incorporation question had to petition the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office to study the feasibility of turning the area into a city. After collecting enough signatures, the office carried out the study, which was then the focus of numerous town hall meetings leading up to the November 2020 vote on the question.
Fullmer said Ogden Valley residents pursued incorporation in 2004, but that the effort failed.