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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Both Sides of the Conflict Coin

This lively debate over The Powder Mountain rezone conflict of interest issue provides an excellent opportunity for our members and all residents of Ogden Valley to weigh in with their thoughts and opinions to both the OVPC and Weber County Commissioners.

If you feel it was the responsibility of Ms. Lythgoe to investigate and disclose all Cobabe family holdings in and around the Powder Mountain rezone area when the rezone petition was initially put before the OVPC earlier this year, you should express your feelings to the County Commissioners via e-mail, telephone or letter.

Conversely, if you feel this conflict of interest perception is much ado about nothing and would not affect the final disposition of the rezone petition, inform the County Commissioners of your opinion in the same manner.

It should be stated here that despite the overheated rhetoric, the initial Conflict of Interest disclosure about the Cobabe property holdings did not initiate with any Ogden Valley resident, it was published first in the Salt Lake City Tribune by a Cache County reporter for the Trib and later picked up by the Standard Examiner.

Whatever your opinion, we encourage you to contact your OVPC and Weber County Commissioners and express your views.

The strength of any group of citizens is their collective voice on this kind of issue. We are confident that our Valley citizens are intelligent enough to to understand what is at stake with the Powder Mountain rezone petition.

"Speak Up for what you want, or take what you get!"

Your VCRD Staff

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Blogmeister Note: Here is a Rebuttal to the Powder Mountain/OVPC conflict of interest situation, submitted by Frank Cumberland

How appropriate at Halloween that some folks in the Valley angrily roam the Ogden Valley Utah Forum Blog and (I am guessing) the Letters section of the Ogden Valley News like the crowd chasing Frankenstein’s monster, only this time the mob is chasing Ogden Valley Planning Commissioner Jamie Lythgoe for her alleged conflict of interest.

I am a member of the Valley Citizens for Responsible Development, but I disagree with the various accusations that Commissioner Lythgoe is somehow arrogantly—and dishonestly--refusing to recuse herself from debate and decision on the Powder Mountain rezone. I practiced law for twenty-five years and for each of those years volunteered my time to prosecute lawyers for infractions of the Code of Professional Responsibility, the majority of which infractions involved conflicts of interest. I also co-authored, with two other persons, the first Code of Ethics for the City of Olmsted Falls, Ohio, the nucleus of which was a conflict of interest provision which called for removal from office for its violation. It is fair to say that I recognize conflicts as well as anyone I know, and I dislike them as much as anyone I know.

Some things to consider:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Powder Mountain Rezone Tabled Again!

The Powder Mountain rezone petition was tabled again by the Ogden Valley Planning Commission at Tuesday's meeting. It was agreed that the rezone request will be heard on November 27, 2007, at 4:30PM.

Jamie Lythgoe, an OVPC Commissioner, belatedly provided disclosure of her family (Cobabe) holdings that include one-half of one percent of Western America Holding, the company requesting the rezone now before the OVPC, and 200+ acres of land adjacent to the rezone area. It is important to note that none of this family ownership information disclosed by Ms. Lythgoe Tuesday night was forthcoming until a newspaper article broke the story last week.

Representing the VCRD, I personally talked to Ms. Lythgoe in early September about the issue of Conflict of Interest at Powder Mountain. She told me that Ms. Hurtado, deputy County attorney, stated there was no conflict of interest with her being in the Real Estate business in the area. During this conversation, Ms. Lythgoe never disclosed the current holdings of the Cobabe family she later detailed at yesterday's OVPC meeting.

If there is any question whether the Cobabe holdings would appreciate in value with the rezone of almost 8,000 acres for a "World Class Resort" adjacent to their property, one needs only to look at what is happening all across Ogden Valley to property value assessments and taxes because of new adjacent developments.

The VCRD membership feels that the conflict of interest rule clearly applies on this issue. The Cobabe family owns one-half of one percent of the development area (almost 8000 acres) that will be impacted by the rezone request, and an additional 200+ acres adjacent to the rezone area.

Most of the OVPC Commissioners Tuesday appeared to have no problem with the conflict of interest issue for Ms. Lythgoe despite the fact that her family's holdings clearly fit the conflict of interest criteria as defined in the Planning Commission Procedures.

The Planning Commission Procedures, (Regarding Conflict of Interest) Part A reads:

"A Planning Commissioner to whom some private benefits may come as the result of a Planning Commission action should not be a participant in the action." Part 1 states "The Private benefit may be direct or indirect, create a material, personal gain or provide a distinct advantage to relations or to friends or to groups and associations which hold some of share of a person's loyalty."

The Commission Chairman, Louis Cooper and the Asst. County Attorney Allred were quoted in the Standard Examiner last week that they were under the impression that the Cobabe family had sold all of their interests at Powder Mountain. In addition, Monette Hurtado this morning is quoted regarding Ms. Lythgoe's disclosure as saying "As to her specific ownership, I don't know the details," and "She did disclose that her family sold all their land."

In summary, what we have here is a deputy County Attorney that admits not knowing all the details about Ms. Lythgoe's family ownership but is quoted as the source for the "No conflict of Interest" legal opinion by the OVPC Chairman Louis Cooper.

It is obvious and disappointing that the OVPC Commissioners are dominated by the deputy County attorney and are reluctant to challenge her opinion even when the facts regarding a conflict of interest hits them right between the eyes. We would remind the Commissioners that her job is legal advice for the County and they should not subordinate their independent judgment on a sensitive issue such as conflict of interest involving a fellow Commissioner when it could further undermine the public trust in government.

Our members question the reason that Ms. Lythgoe doggedly will not recuse herself on this Powder Mountain issue unless she has some long range stake in the outcome. As the OVPC Chairman pointed out, there are six other commissioners to address this rezone. The OVPC members have recused themselves in the recent past numerous times on conflict issues less egregious than the direct Cobabe family ownership of a property rezone now before the OVPC.

Your VCRD Staff

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Blog and the VCRD

It appears that there is some misconception that the VCRD owns the Ogden Valley Forum blog. That is not true, the VCRD has been given permission to use the blog to communicate to all interested parties and does not have control over the other postings and content.

Those who read the blog should remember they are reading the postings and comments of citizens that are trying to express their feelings and concerns about issues that affect them In Ogden Valley.

The VCRD cannot and will not change any posting, only the owner of the blog can do that if the content is not acceptable.

All blog posting by the VCRD staff have always been named at the end of the post as such or with my name as author.

Larry Zini
VCRD Chairman

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Send Strong Message - Vote NO! For 1/4 cent sales tax hike.

Guest Post from Utah Wingman D-Bell

Greetings Friends and Neighbors,

Beginning tomorrow you are asked to vote on a quarter cent tax hike. Sounds innocent enough. Family of four impacted only $8-9 a month. The Weber County mayors, commissioners, and chambers of commerce in all three Counties teamed up into the Northern Utah Transportation Alliance to run a campaign for the sales tax increase.

Question: Where were all these people while our property taxes are being increased five (5) to fifty-seven (57) times the inflation rate of 2.67%? Yet they have the unmitigated gall to push for even more taxes from us. And a tax which has no end date? Think of it…a forever tax!

I am getting wake up phone calls asking so what is next? What can we do D-Bell? To find out what we can do, click here...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Property Tax Meeting Wednesday at 2 PM

Our apologies for the late notice, but the Utah Wingmen have passed on the details for a legislative tax meeting Wednesday at the State Capital. There is power in numbers, so attend if at all possible. The Wingmen need your support for Tax Reform.

Commissioner Lythgoe denies conflict of interest and other news

The story we broke two days ago, made it to the Standard this morning in Marshall Thompson's "Commissioner Lythgoe denies conflict of interest." The article does not address the issue we reported that Cobabe's were in fact partners in Western America Holding, Co., the "new owners" of Powder Mountain as reported in the Salt Lake Tribune.

At any rate, be sure to sign the petition in our right side column opposing the rezone request. As we have stated, only one group will benefit from the rezone - the developers! Be sure to write the planning commissioners and attend this potentially precedent setting meeting on October 23,2007.

Lastly, we have added "Huntsville Election 2007" information to our right column and it will be updated in the upcoming days.

What say you Ogden Valley - Conflict or No Conflict?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Urgent update regarding Powder Mountain Conflict of Interest

From Saturday's Salt Lake Tribune, we read Deal deadline looms for Powder Mountain project - By Arrin Newton Brunson Special to The Tribune

The article brings up some interesting and possibly overlooked items.
  • The Cache County Council will decide Oct. 23 whether to allow another development extension. This is the same day the Ogden Valley Planning Commission (OVPC) will vote on a Major rezone request.
  • Early in 2005, investors partnered with Powder Mountain's original owners and members of the Alvin Cobabe family to form the Western America Holding Co. and develop the 7,960-acre area.

The latter is an extremely important point as it has long been rumored Powder Mountain had been "sold." According to the Tribune, the Cobabe family "partnered" to form Western America Holding Co.

The issue of a conflict of interest has been brought up many times to OVPC member Jamie Lythgoe who claims to have no interest in Powder Mountain after the "sale," but this suggests otherwise.

Lythgoe is the Granddaughter and heiress of Powder Mountain founder and apparent partner of Western America Holding Co., Alvin Cobabe. Additionally, many Powder Mountain properties are still listed on County records as belonging to the Cobabes.

This is, without question, a conflict of interest, and Ms. Lythgoe must recuse herself from any and all action related to Powder Mountain.

What say you now, Ms. Hurtado? (Weber County Attorney)

Huntsville and Ogden Valley in the news / Sign the Powder Mountain Rezone Petition

If you own a High Definition Phillips, you have certainly seen the recent coverage of Ogden Valley's egregious Property Tax assessments. More specifically, Huntsville Residents D-Bell and Richard Sorensen, a.k.a. Utah Wingmen, have put the town of Huntsville up for sale for nearly $3 Billion.

In today's Standard, we read an editorial that is right on target - Just get it done. Kudos to the editorial staff.

We also hear that Fox 13 will run the story tonight (Sunday) at 9 PM and throughout the day on Monday.

Some time ago, we at the forum created a page dedicated to the developing Tax Revolt. The site contains links to the latest media coverage and to other local tax sites. Add your email address to the Subscribe list on all of the related sites to receive updates and alerts.

As the Wingmen say, "Get informed and get involved!

We nearly overlooked a letter to the editor from Larry Zini regarding a local water company's efforts to increase the water rates by 125%. The increase will most likely help fund more Ski Lake Condo's to further beautify our Valley.

And Marshall Thompson of the Standard writes, "Resort tour shows more than paper" with regard to the Powder Mountain Rezone request. Ogden Valley Planning Commission member Gregg Graves said it best, “Just doing that, I don’t see how that benefits the valley as a whole.”

Right on Commissioner Graves - not only will the rezone NOT benefit anyone in Ogden Valley, but it will be a DETRIMENT to Ogden Valley and will forever cast a black shadow over us. Be sure to sign the Powder Mountain rezone petition.

For more details on the rezone request, Click here.

UPDATE - 12:00 PM: We are in the process of creating a web section dedicated to the Huntsville Election, much like the Ogden Election Info at the Weber County Forum. Check back in a day or two.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Powder Mountain Rezone

We joined the Ogden Valley Planning Commission's field trip to Powder Mountain yesterday. It was informative and it gave us a better perspective on the scope of the proposed rezone development plans. While the trip was worthwhile, it did not alter our view that the rezone petition being considered by the OVPC is not in the best interest of Ogden Valley residents and the General Plan.

On October 23rd the Ogden Valley Planning Commission will be asked to grant this rezone by the Powder Mountain developer. This petition has been tabled twice and will in all probability be voted on at this meeting. The Valley Citizens for Responsible Development (VCRD) does not oppose development at Powder Mountain, but we feel that any development approval should be granted under the existing zoning and within the pending Sensitive Lands Overlay, Recreation Resort Zone, and Transfer of Development Right ordinances now in the review/approval process. No additional dwellings should be approved.

The requested rezone translates to almost doubling the density at Powder Mountain to 2800 dwellings in Weber County alone over what would be allowed under the current zoning (1477 units). The Cache County portion of the proposed development has an additional 900 plus units. Valley residents should consider what that would mean to traffic, water and air pollution issues in the Valley. In addition, the fact that there is only one road in and out (Powder Mountain Road) could be a serious factor in case of a wild fire emergency. Cache County has already denied the petitioner's request to add another road into Powder Mountain from their county.

The VCRD membership feels the worst scenario for our Valley is for the Ogden Valley Planning Commission or Weber County Commission to approve a precedent setting rezone that would undo much of the ongoing density planning efforts, and negatively impact the charm and character of Ogden Valley. The unprecedented increase in density (dwellings) from this proposed rezone petition with its major change in usage, and thus the associated increase in units, will negatively impact the road traffic, air quality, wildlife, and water quality in Ogden Valley. This rezone petition should not be approved.

If the Powder Mountain request for a rezoning is approved, this action could open the flood gates for resorts like Wolf Creek, Snow Basin, and other resort developers to petition the Commission for similar rezoning and expect to receive a favorable decision. This could be a disaster for the General Plan in Ogden Valley.

The time is now to write your Ogden Valley Planning Commission and express your feelings. The OVPC has wide discretion on this rezone and our members and all residents should be heard loud and clear. If you have not done so, please go to our blog, to vote on the petition on Powder Mountain.

Write to your OVPC Commissioners via Sherri Sillitoe: and ask that your
e-mail be distributed to all OVPC Commissioners.

Remember, "Speak up for what you want, or take what you get."

Your VCRD Staff and Valley Contributors

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Press Release: Huntsville Town "For Sale - Can't Afford The Taxes"

UPDATE: The media day will be held at the Southeast Bowery (not Southwest, as previously advertised)

Huntsville Town is up for Sale.
All Media invited to our "Media Day"
TIME Saturday, 13 October.
TIME: 1100 AM
WHERE: At the Town Park (Southeast corner Bowery )
Light refreshments will be served

Wingmen Sorensen and Bell will be available for guided tours of the Town.
Information will be available of assessment errors.
Wingmen are available to answer questions (until the last question is answered)
CONTACT: For more information call D Bell 801 710-6270 or 801 745-1419

Press Release:

Huntsville Town "For Sale - Can't afford the property taxes"

is a citizen initiative begun after Weber County Tax notices were
received in early August. The idea came from Indianapolis, Indiana
where a similar political statement proved effective in drawing national
attention to citizen's who feel they are being abused by disparate
and excessive taxation.

Property Tax Petitions move across the State like a Speeding Freight Train Huntsville Town citizen Richard Sorensen designed, purchased and distributed
lawn signs. Another citizen, D-Bell, began a campaign to have Huntsville Town
properties reassessed. A petition written by Bell and distributed by Sorensen
rolled through Huntsville Town (pop. 600) like a high speed freight train.
The citizen response was such the "informational" meeting with County officials
had to be moved to the Snowcrest Junior High within 24 hours.

At the Snowcrest Junior High gymnasium (15 August) at least one thousand or
more angry Valley residents "pinned back the ears" of Weber County Commissioners,
Assessors and local Representative Gage Froerer.

The Ogden Valley Forum was so heated with tax outrage, and Click here to read the rest of the press release

Monday, October 08, 2007

Once again, the eve of the County Commission meeting and No agenda

It is a common occurrance - the County's web site states that agenda's will be posted the Friday before the Tuesday meeting, but some 10 hours prior to the meeting and no agenda is posted.

We at the forum ask, where is the transparency in our government?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

North Salt Lake Mayor Threatens Lawsuit

While we have created a dedicated site for the ongoing Ogden Valley Tax Revolt, there was an important action in Davis County as NSL asks county to void 2007 property valuations . Kudos to the North Salt Lake Mayor for going to bat for her constituents.

Be sure to add your email address to the Ogden Valley Tax Revolt page to receive updates.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Powder Mountain Field Trip - October 12th

Weber County Planning Commission web site now states that the public is invited to join the OVPC field trip to Powder Mt. on Oct. 12. Everyone will meet at the Maverick Station in Eden at 1:00 PM for the drive up. The public must have their own transportation, and a 4x4 drive is recommended.

We've been told that this is a first for the "public" to be invited along on such a field trip. So we encourage anyone who believes such a trip may be beneficial to join along.

For those of you who have not visited the County's Planning Commission web site recently you will find some nice changes. As an example, under the agenda for Oct. 12 click on Powder Mountain and you will find Staff's review of the rezoning request plus maps of the current and proposed zoning changes. These maps provide quite a visual for what will happen if this rezone is approved! There are other good additions to the site as well. Some things are missing, like the minutes of past meetings. But the site is still in the process of redesign and the minutes will be added back soon.

Your VCRD staff

Ogden Valley News from Ogden Valley Residents

It seems as though we have had a couple of slow news days, but be sure to check out our sister Ogden Valley Tax Revolt site for updated tax related media.

From today's Standard, we read a letter to the editor from Huntsville Resident Harold "JR" Johansen, entitled Vouchers a windfall for schools, taxpayers

And, an article we missed from a few days ago congratulates 11 year old Eden resident John Michael Lewis for his first place finish in Ogden’s Harvest Moon Celebration.