Eden-area plans spark outcry; Weber County Commissioners have final say
EDEN — Dallen Adams moved to the Eden area in the Ogden Valley some 13 years ago, looking for a break from the hubbub of urban living.
“You move up here to get away from traffic,” he said.
A controversial mixed-use 20-acre development proposal across East Highway 166 from his home, though, has him rethinking things, mulling a move given the possible growth. “This is just the beginning of the end of the valley, in my opinion,” he said.
Those are strong words, but the proposed Eden Crossing development, which calls for perhaps 325 housing units, has generated strong sentiments in the Ogden Valley. It’s got its backers, to be sure, but notably, the plans have generated a strong and vocal outpouring of opposition.
Indeed, the Ogden Valley Planning Commission met Tuesday on the plans, voting 5-2 to recommend denial of a rezone sought by the developer to allow the proposal to move forward after receiving two hours of input from the public, most of it critical. As is, the area is zoned for agricultural use, with limited leeway for housing development.
The officials voting no variously expressed concern that the plans weren’t supported by the public or the Ogden Valley general plan, which guides development in the area, and that development would adversely impact adjacent property owners, among other things. The Planning Commission — an advisory body to Weber County commissioners — similarly voted 5-2 last May against a separate set of proposed changes governing street development in the area.
Now it’ll be up to the Weber County Commission, which has final say, to weigh in. Weber County Planning Division staffers recommend approval of the rezone and the street development changes, saying they comply with county guidelines. County commissioners are to meet on Dec. 5, when they’re tentatively scheduled to act, factoring the mixed recommendations.
“The Planning Commission’s decision is a recommendation for the (County) Commission to consider as part of their deliberation. They are not obligated to follow it,” said Charlie Ewert, the principal planner in the planning division.
Development issues typically garner a strong response, backlash even, in the Ogden Valley, where many worry new development will detract from the area’s backcountry charm. Notably, the proposed ski village development near the base of the Nordic Valley ski resort sparked backlash from some before Weber County Commissioners approved the plans late last year.
The flap over the Eden Crossing plans, though, seems different, according to Ewert. “This one feels stronger to a degree,” he said.
He understands the sentiments, though, noting the zone where Eden Crossing would take shape — just east of the commercial hub at the East Highway 166 and state Route 158 intersection, where Valley Market and a Maverik gas station are located. “It’s the primary activity center of the valley and folks want to protect it. Growth is change, and change, understandably, is hard. Especially for those who love the area as it currently is,” Ewert said in an email to the Standard-Examiner.
What exactly the Eden Crossing plans entail isn’t crystal clear. John Lewis is the registered agent for Eden Crossing LLC, the project developer and the force behind numerous Ogden Valley development projects. He didn’t immediately respond to a query seeking comment.
The developer’s application for a rezone, though, offers insights. Commercial operations would be focused on the southern portion of the area closest to East Highway 166 with multi-family developments north of that, according to a map in county documents that offers a broad outline of the plans. Small-lot residential development is proposed in the northeastern portion of the area.
“Eden Crossing is a proposed commercial, retail, multi-family and single-family homesite development in the New Eden area of Ogden Valley,” the application reads. It would contain perhaps 325 housing units.
Some say the plans include a hotel and a bank. Signage scattered around the Eden area, including the frontage along East Highway 166 in front of Adams’ home, alludes to the scuttlebutt: “SAY NO!!/100 Room HOTEL/192 CONDOS/58 TOWNHOME’s/& SHOPPING PLAZA?/SAY NO TO/EDEN CROSSING.”
Despite such opposition, not all are naysayers. Ogden Valley Planning Commissioner Jeffry Burton, for one, voted in the minority against recommending denial of the proposed rezone.
As he sees it, the proposal meets county development guidelines aimed at clustering development in nodes as a guard against housing sprawl into green areas of the Ogden Valley. The Eden Crossing proposal, he maintains, is in an area where increased housing density is supposed to occur.
“We ought to allow (the developer) to have a shot at doing something,” Burton said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Others, though, have their doubts.
Kelli Booth says there are other areas of Eden — still available — where commercial development is permissible. She also wonders whether there’s enough water to supply the proposed development. “I honestly think one of our biggest concerns is water,” she said.
Adams understands development, a least a measure of it, is inevitable. “But the extent to what they want to do is too much,” he said.
The character of the area, he thinks, is at stake. “Now it’s turning into city life with all the development,” he said.