EDEN — A proposed gravel pit and concrete operation in the Eden area, focus of a planned public hearing on Tuesday, is drawing plenty of backlash from some.
"This is like an assault, people think," said Kimbal Wheatley, who's active in the Ogden Valley Growth with Excellence Mandate Committee, a grassroots group in the Ogden Valley. The proposed site adjacent to Snowcrest Junior High School, he said, is a big point of concern for some foes.
Even Weber County Planning Division staffers question the project and recommend denial of the plan, in large part because it could put a dent in plans to further develop the Eden area's tourist potential. The unincorporated Eden area is a small hub of activity in the Ogden Valley, a stopping point for visitors to the Nordic Valley and Powder Mountain snow resorts and elsewhere.
"A gravel operation's proximity to the valley's most prominent village area could hamper one of the county's long-term goals, that of creating a world-class resort-oriented walkable commercial village that offers a small town 'Main Street' experience," reads the staff recommendation, released last Friday. "The current economic benefits of the gravel operation might eschew the future economic benefits of such a village."
The plans come up for discussion at a public hearing organized by the Ogden Valley Planning Commission at 5 p.m. Tuesday. It'll be held at Snowcrest Junior High, 2755 N. Highway 162 in Eden.
Charles Ewert, principle planner in the county's Planning Division, said the project developer seeks action at Tuesday's meeting by the planning commission, an advisory body to Weber County commissioners. County commissioners, who have final say, could take the matter up in another month, presuming a recommendation comes out of Tuesday's meeting.
A Minnesota-based entity named Levanta filed the application in late May for the project, called Sustainable Valley Development, or Eden Ready Mix. Levanta, which seeks a rezone of the 14-acre parcel around 4720 E. 2650 North where the operation would be located, touts the operation as a means to spur "sustainable development" in the area by creating a nearby source of building materials. The land is located in an area currently zoned for agricultural and residential development.
"The new ready-mix operation for Ogden Valley will provide the essential products necessary for residential and commercial building and development while meeting the mandate of the existing general plan by providing the materials necessary for growth," the application reads.
Having a nearby source of concrete would reduce the number of trucks traveling to the area from outside the Ogden Valley, the developers argue. Moreover, it would reduce construction costs by cutting the distance concrete needs to be hauled, making transport cheaper.
Whatever the case, it's spurred a strong reaction from some in the area, more backlash, even, than another controversial proposal, now dormant, to expand the Nordic Valley ski resort, said Wheatley. Some worry about the many trucks traveling to and from the concrete operation and the potential danger to students at Snowcrest. Emissions of particulate matter from the operation are also of concern given the athletic fields on the school grounds and the possibility of students breathing in the material.
Like planning division staffers, some also worry the project would hamper the goal of developing Eden's tourist potential. The plans "destroy" that vision, said Wheatley, whose group, known as Ogden Valley GEM, keeps close tabs on development proposals in the area.
According to the planning division report, the plans call for gravel excavation on the west side of the North Fork of the Ogden River, which traverses the site. A gravel crusher and concrete-making plant would also be located at the facility.
"If the gravel operation is established and successful, there will likely be pressure to expand the limits of the site," the report reads. The report warns of increased truck traffic along 2650 North and Highway 162, fugitive dust and noise in the vicinity of the facility caused by the gravel crusher.
If the planning commission recommends approval of the plans, staffers suggest numerous conditions to temper the impact of the facility to Eden-area residents. The conditions relate to noise, truck traffic, landscaping and more.