Whisper Ridge mountain bike 03

A Whisper Ridge helicopter, photographed in mid-June 2019. The firm, which hauls skiers to remote locations in Cache County via snowcat and helicopter in the winter, is now looking to expand into heli-mountain biking, hauling mountain bikers via helicopter to otherwise inaccessible areas for off-road riding.

OGDEN — Action on Powder Mountain‘s request to install a heliport at the mountaintop resort, which has raised the eyebrows of some, has been put on hold.

Members of the Ogden Valley Planning Commission, tasked with considering the conditional use permit request for the plans, tabled the matter. They want additional information, a Weber County planning official said Wednesday.

Meantime, plans for a hotel at the resort — “the first significant commercial project” at the location, the developer says — are moving forward.

The planning commission met Tuesday, hearing from proponents and critics of the heliport plans, among other things. Powder Mountain, teaming with Whisper Ridge, seeks a permit allowing the heliport so it can ferry adventure skiers and mountain bikers via helicopter to remote mountain areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Steve Burton, principal planner in the Weber County Planning Division, said the commission tabled action on the heliport in light of questions about flight paths the helicopter would follow and fueling. They also want Powder Mountain to get a recommendation from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources on the plans.

“The item will be tabled until the applicant comes back with this additional information,” Burton said in an email Wednesday

Dennis Maher, a critic of the heliport plans, spoke out at Tuesday’s meeting. He’s worried about the possibility of fires caused by helicopters landing in remote locales and bristles at the notion of a service that he thinks caters chiefly to high-end customers. “You’re catering to the one-one thousandth of 1%. Nobody is going to do this,” he said Wednesday.

Powder Mountain and Whisper Ridge representatives see the heliport operation as a means to expand the range of offerings for skiing and mountain bike enthusiasts. Some critics, though, worry about noise from helicopters, disruption to nearby wildlife and overdevelopment.

In other action Tuesday, the planning commission approved the design review application for the proposed Powder Mountain hotel, to be developed by Greenline Capital as part of the Selina chain of hotels, hostels and co-working spaces. The five-story structure, sitting on about a half-acre of land, would house 47 hotel rooms and 52 condominium units and feature a “Scandinavian look,” according to Rory Murphy, presenting the proposal to the commission on Tuesday on behalf of Greenline and Powder Mountain.

He described it as a “destination hotel” that would be a “significant tax generator” for Weber County. The facility would create 51 jobs.

“Perhaps most importantly, it provides vitality and vibrancy to the entire resort area and really begins to anchor a village core that should be a significant economic development area for Weber County for years to come,” reads the application for the hotel. Boosters envision the hotel, the application continues, as “a source of community energy and a gathering space that helps to propel the Village and the mountain in general forward in a positive and fiscally responsible manner.”

The Selina website describes its hotels as catering to eclectic travelers. “Whether you’re a digital nomad, family on vacation, adventurous backpacker or surfer looking for paradise, you’ve come to the right place,” it reads.

The hotel plans still face some additional review by planning staff.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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