Cherry “Peak” Ski Resort

BRWC is fully engaged with this ill-advised proposal to build a low elevation ski resort in the foothills above Richmond, Utah and we will remain diligent.We want to thank everyone who has supported our efforts during this process. Without you we couldn’t have made it this far.


Current news

1) Skiers produced a YouTube video showing themselves skiing on the Richmond Wildlife Management Area west of the proposed resort. This activity is illegal and demands that serious attention be paid to the upcoming “Boundary Management Plan” that developers will need to provide for their Conditional Use Permit. Read more here.

Because of this current example of an intrusion across the proposed ski area boundary and into the critical winter wildlife habitat of the RWMA, we ask that serious attention be paid to their forthcoming Boundary Management Plan. This is an extremely important issue because this plan and all actions taken will help maintain any remaining viability of the abutting and adjacent property of the RWMA. One suggestion is that the plan incorporate paid staff to patrol the boundary with serious repercussions to violators.

2) On Friday, March 8, 2013, Judge Kevin Allen with the First District Court in Cache County informed us that he granted Summary Judgment to the Cherry Peak Ski Resort developers. Judge Allen agreed that our petitioners had and have standing, and he ruled in our favor on the Motion to Dismiss the case (i.e., he did not dismiss it), but he concluded that the decision of the Board of Adjustment was based on substantial evidence, and hence that the granting of the Conditional Use Permit was appropriate. Read more here.

3) Students with the Utah State University class, Challenges in Climate Change and Energy studied the Cherry Peak Ski Resort proposal and have prepared their report, Cherry Peak Ski Area: A Local Case Study. The study was conducted by: M.L. Olsen, R.C. Robinson, A.C. Rohman

4) The developer removed trees in the fall of 2012 from the proposed site. Read more about the unauthorized tree removal here.


Introduction

On March 4, 2010, developers presented their application for a conditional use permit with Cache County Planning Commission to build a low elevation ski resort at the mouth of Cherry Creek Canyon. (See HJNews.comThe Park Record, and Cache Valley Daily.com)

The application was withdrawn but the developer, Cherry Peak Ski Resort LLC reapplied in September 2011 and submitted a new Master Plan.

For all the current county documents click here.

We are monitoring the county website and it’s possible to see the changes that have been made since 3/17/2013 here: change log

The lots are currently owned by members of the Daines family. We understand that the developer will purchase the properties once he has secured the permits to move forward.

ownership

location

The proposal is a parcel of private property (shaded red) squeezed between the Forest Service Mount Naomi Wilderness (shaded orange) and the Division of Wildlife Resources Richmond Wildlife Management Area (shaded yellow).

 

 

location 2

The proposed resort is located in the foothills above Richmond City and is zoned FR40 (one cabin per 40 acres). The zone does allow for recreational use but only to the “extent compatible with the protection of the natural and scenic resources of the forests for the benefit of present and future generations.”The Cache County Planning Commission is obligated under state law [Utah State Code 17-27a-506(2) (a)] to insure that a mitigation plan is in place to in some measure compensate for the reasonably anticipated detrimental effects the proposed ski area will have on the Richmond Wildlife Management Area and the wildlife it supports. It has not done so.

The Best Management Practices suggested in the conditional use permit are not mitigation but are a rather pathetic strategy to prevent negative impacts. BMPs ARE NOT MITIGATION therefore Utah State law has been violated.Finally, The law requires that compatible use permits (CUP) be granted only on substantial evidence that a proposed property use will be compatible with a nearby existing property use.

Substantial evidence must, at a minimum, be relevant evidence—that is, it must have some bearing on the compatible use issue. But the planning commission based its decision on “evidence” that had nothing to do with the issue of compatibility with wildlife on the adjacent Richmond Wildlife Management Area. Therefore, we believe that the decision to grant the CUP should be overturned.

To access all the county documents pertaining to the ski area click here.

To watch or read the commission minutes click here.

 


Standards and criteria

The commission is the “land use authority” and their decision is final pending the outcome of an appeal (17.02.070) or further legal actions. The permit DOES NOT go in front of the county council.

There are six of Cache County’s Standards and Criteria (17.06.070) that need to be addressed before the commission can approve the permit. The following three, BRWC believes have not been met and are critical in the decision.

1. The use applied for at the location proposed is necessary or desirable to provide a service or facility that will contribute to the general well being of the areaand the county;

2. Compatibility of the proposed use with thecharacter of the site, adjacent properties and other existing and proposed development;

3. If the planning commission determines that the standards of this section cannot be met and thatadequate mitigation measures cannot be imposed to bring the use into conformity with the standards and criteria, the planning commission may deny the request for a conditional use permit. [emphasis added]

 


Incompatible with adjacent properties

Criteria: Compatibility of the proposed use with thecharacter of the site, adjacent properties and other existing and proposed development;

The resort would stand on a parcel of private property squeezed between the U.S. Forest Service Mount Naomi Wilderness (on the east boundary) and the Division of Wildlife Resources Richmond Wildlife Management Area (RWMA). The government defines wilderness as “an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character, influence and . . . has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.”

letter from the Logan Ranger District states that, “Direct impacts to the Wilderness character can come from improved access . . . adjacent to and potentially into the Wilderness. Skiers choosing to ski outside of the resort boundaries will not be seeking a primitive experience or seeking solitude, but will be part of a commercial enterprise using adjacent slopes. Given the layout of the ski lifts, the boundary between the resort and Wilderness will be indistinguishable.”

grnd location

Also of concern is the adjacent Richmond Wildlife Management Area (RWMA), created with land donated by local landowners, money from Utah hunters and anglers, and managed for the benefit of wildlife, including game birds and especially mule deer and elk that winter over in these foothills. Some of this money comes from federal Pittman-Robertson funds, an imposed excise tax on hunting equipment, which is disbursed to state wildlife management agencies.

These past investments by taxpayers, local landowners, and hunters will be diminished by the disturbances associated with construction and the operation of the ski area.

impacts radiate The biggest question is how far will the negative impacts radiate outward into the neighboring Richmond Wildlife Management Area and how much will that devalue the “critical winter wildlife habitat?”Has the proposed mitigation properly addressed this loss of value?If the proposed resort were to be built, it would “fundamentally impair functional wildlife habitat in and adjacent to the Richmond Wildlife Management Area, most specifically for mule deer, elk, and sharp-tailed grouse.”—Allison Jones, Conservation Biologist

 

Read this journal document for a deeper understanding: Effects of Humans on Behaviour of Wildlife Exceed Those of Natural Predators in a Landscape of Fear.

In a letter to the commission, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has confirmed that a sharp-tailed grouse lek is located on the RWMA and within a half mile of the proposed ski resort. Sharp-tailed grouse are a Utah Species of Concern and in the future could be Federally listed as an endangered or threatened species.The buffer area needed for sharp-tailed grouse critical winter habitat extends well into the proposed development and if the project is allowed to continue could negatively impact the local population.

For more information read the Federal Technical Conservation Assessment and the Utah Strategic Management Plan. Originally the Master Plan ommitted the sharp-tailed grouse but the study has since been amended.The presence of a sharp-tailed grouse lek on the RWMA is an essential piece of the property’s character and value.

Listen to Scott Walker with the Division of Wildlife Resources comments here.

Wildlife professionals have called the study superficial and almost exclusively a “desktop analysis” document.

Wildlife Comments–Michael Wolfe, Emeritus Professor of Wildlife Science (PDF)

Wildlife Comments–Allison Jones, Conservation Biologist (PDF)

Letter to the editor–Michael Wolfe, Emeritus Professor of Wildlife Science

Letter to the editor–Rocky Mtn. Elk Foundation

Read more about impacts to wildlife and roads here:

Because of this unique situation and the character and value of these adjacent lands, the proposed use is not compatible with the surrounding uses and will interfere with the public’s use and enjoyment of adjoining or area properties. Therefore, the proposal is NOT eligible for a conditional use permit under Cache County’s Standards and Criteria (17.06.070).

See other issues>

 


December, 2011 update

The Cache County Planning Commission met on Thursday, December 1, 2011 where the commission staff presented their report and a memo about the proposal’s current status. The minutes and video are no longer available on the county website.

The commission ran out of time and didn’t allow public comment and then voted for the staff to continue and study the proposal for up to another 90 days. There was an impressive turnout with 25 people who stood in opposition.

Some of the issues that have been resolved are:

1) The resort will need to construct a two-mile sewer line and connect to Richmond City’s system.

2) The developer contracted to purchase enough water rights to provide culinary water. The water needed to make snow doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of the county and is a business concern. The resort plans to drill a well.

3) The county attorney has written a memo that claims the county has a 66-foot right-of-way on the road through the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Richmond Wildlife Management Area. DWR said originally said that they felt that hasn’t been established and that it still needs to be determined. This has been dropped after the DWR reviewed a Utah Supreme Court case that had established precedent.

Some of the more pressing issues noted by the staff that still need to be addressed are:

1) Mitigation of impacts on wildlife and vegetation.

2) Mitigation of impacts to Richmond City roadways.

3) Additional concerns [that] have also been noted in the official and public comment.

Here is an article after that meeting:

The Herald Journal - 12/11/2011


January 2012 update

In preparation for the third commission meeting, the Cache County Planning Commission staff “determined that the request for a conditional use permit for a ski area that includes all phases of the Cherry Peak Ski Area Master Plan, located in the Forest Recreation (FR-40) Zone is in conformance with the Cache County Ordinance and should be approved.” Read the staff report here.

The commission met for the third time on January 5, 2012 (see the video here and list of speakers here) and found the council chambers with standing room only. Our voice was heard. Comments were taken but confined to information pertinent to wildlife, although some stepped outside the subject. The “Wildlife Study” was lambasted by wildlife professionals as superficial and almost exclusively a “desktop analysis” document.

Martin Bushman, from the Attorney General’s office said that if DWR were to grant any type of encumbrance to allow utilities through the RWMA would require federal approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serivce and would need to undertake NEPA review because of the federal funds (Pittman-Robertson) used to help purchase the property. (Citizen’s Guide to the NEPA)

The council voted to continue the discussion and postpone a decision and investigate how to have an independent wildlife study completed and who will pay for the study.

The commission discussed the possible need to schedule a one agenda item meeting to address all the issues and allow adequate public comment.

Read more here: The Herald Journal - 01/06/2012


February 2012 update

Thursday February 2, 2012

Cache Valley Planning and Zoning Commission voted to approve the conditional use permit.

The Commission staff had the StanTec “wildlife study” evaluated and not the comments submitted by wildlife biologists as directed by Commission Chair. The evaluation stated that the StanTec study was sufficient but added additional measures that should be taken.

Watch the Commission video here.

Read more here: The Herald Journal - 02/03/2012


March 2012 update

Read more about our appeal here: The Herald Journal - 03/08/2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cache County Board of Adjustments heard and postponed a decision on our appeal.

Watch video or read the minutes here.

Read more here: The Herald Journal - 03/23/2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cache County Board of Adjustments voted to deny our appeal.

Watch video or read the minutes here.

Read more here: The Herald Journal - 03/30/2012


July 2012 update

Monday, July 16, 2012

Interview on KVNU Crosstalk with Jennie Christensen

Read more here: The Herald Journal - Richmond ski area gets green light with appeal denial 07/25/2012

 


Richmond City concerns and issues

During the 12/13/11 Richmond City council meeting, Mayor Hall stated that after much review he believes the project is “more of a liability than an asset for the city” and has serious concerns; especially for the city’s water supply. Has the proponent satisfied the criteria that the resort will contribute to the general well being of Richmond City?

During an interview January 31, 2012, Cache County Engineer, Lynn Zollinger said he believes the “order of magnitude is somewhat substantial” to Richmond City but that there is an anomaly, in that “we’re [the county] only concerned with the county” and we have no jurisdiction inside the city limits. He continued to say that, “Our position is it’s not our problem.”

main st.

Main St. and 300 East, Richmond, 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning where developers project 200-400 vehicles will pass by twice daily. (See 30 second video)

no sidewalk

Many streets in Richmond lack sidewalks including 300 East where pedestrians walk next to the street during all hours of the day. This is currently an unsafe situation and with an increase in traffic that will use this road to access the proposed resort, including traffic during dark hours, will only increase the danger.

Richmond Residents want to know

WHO PAYS FOR THE IMPACTS?

  • Minimal tax revenue from the resort;
  • 7,500 of gallons of sewage dumped daily into the city’s sewer system that could limit growth;
  • Will there be chemicals used for snowmaking that could impact water quality;
  • What about the other impacts from snowmaking; lowering water table; air pollution from generators?;
  • Possible damage to and relocation of Richmond City’s water main under the access road;
  • Impacts to the city’s roads and infrastructure from the predicted 200-400 vehicles twice a day;
  • Increase in city road maintenance due to increased use with a limited city budget;
  • Decrease in the safety of city streets;
  • Increased snow removal requirements;
  • Emergency services will be provided by the city with no tax revenue from the resort to offset;
  • The “surplus” water and depleation of the groundwater for everyday operations and snowmaking from future Richmond City residents;
  • Mule deer herds pushed into town decimating residents’ landscape and will mountain lions follow their prey into Richmond’s residential area?

To manufacture snow the resort will need approximately 8 million gallons of water. There will be three reservoirs that will need to be filled from a well.

From a USU case study, students estimated that “each reservoir is approximately 6,300 to 11,500 square feet and the master plan states that each reservoir holds approximately 670,000 gallons of water (89,500 cubic feet). Given this information, the reservoirs must be between 7 and 14 feet deep and will have to be refilled 4 times throughout the year. It is unclear how the developers propose to achieve this, given that the reservoirs will be filled only at certain times of the year.”

The developer has 8 water hookups from Richmond City. One is proposed for a cabin, which leaves the developer with 7 hookups to use for resort. The city does have the right to meter and charge the developer for that water.

In a letter to the developer, Richmond City states that the city,  “is restricted by Utah Code Annotated Title 10, Chapter 8, Section 14 (1)( d) to sell and deliver only “surplus” water and or surplus service capacity of its culinary water system to non-residents.”

The letter states that the city can provide, under normal conditions, a total of five thousand (5,000) gallons of water per month per connection for a total of thirty-five thousand (35,000) gallons per month at the normal residential base rate. This amount is calculated upon the original intent of the connections to provide water service to seven (7) cabins that would not be expected to be used year round. To insure clarity, the thirty-five thousand (35,000) gallons amount would be the total for the combined seven (7) connections per month, and is not cumulative.

This situation only delivers 420,000 gallons of water a year (far less than the 10 million the developer said is needed) and the available “surplus” water the city could provide is questionable due to variable weather patterns.

The developer has bought water rights to cover his culinary needs which is all that is required by the county.

The resort is located within Richmond City’s Drinking Water Source Protection Plan and the resort has been told that it can’t have a septic system and must connect to Richmond City’s sewer system two miles away.

Engineers have addressed the problem. Richmond City engineer’s time has been billed to the developer.


CONTACT: Richmond City Officials