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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

VCRD Meeting Scheduled

A general meeting of the VCRD has been scheduled for Thursday, May 29, 2008 at the Huntsville Library at 6:30PM. The meeting will be in the Auditorium and we encourage all members and non-members to attend.

The Agenda can be found at the VCRD Website

If you have any additional agenda suggestions, please contact me at 745-9673

Larry Zini
VCRD Chairman

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Meeting with the Utah Lt. Governor

A frank and productive meeting regarding Powder Mountain was held in Salt Lake yesterday with the Lt. Governor Mr. Herbert and his staff including a representative from the Utah Attorney General's office. Our state representative Gage Froerer set up the meeting and was in attendance.

During the meeting is was conceded by all that HB466 was a poorly written law, but the Lt. Governor said we were in effect stuck with the "unintended consequences". We told him that it was difficult to accept that view since the incorporation has not been approved by anyone yet. Our group was before him to try to alter the scope and size of this physical "train wreck" that will have a disastrous effect on the entire Ogden Valley and any affected homeowners forced into this incoporation without due process.

Several Valley people made the point that the incorporation under HB466 could be viewed as unconstitutional since it abriged the rights of those forced into the town boundries by first, making them part of the town without their input and second, denial of any voting rights on the town leadership for an extended period since the largest property owner (Powder Mountain) has the right under HB466 to submit their handpicked names for town council and mayor.

The Lt. Governor stated that it was possible negotiations could resolve this issue. We assured him that there has been ongoing negotiations and the latest we heard from Gage Froerer is the price that Powder Mountain is asking to drop the incorporation, is to expand the initial 3700 units at Powder Mountain to 9000 units! (We heard this from Gage Froerer just before the meeting started yesterday) This is an astouding response to the attempted negotiations by Commissioner Dearden with Powder Mountain if that is true.

In the end, the Lt. Governor agreed that he and his staff would pursue the water, traffic safety issues, and density questions raised at the meeting with each Utah State department and the Weber County Commissioners involved to see if they could help in any way or if anything has been overlooked. He made it clear that he has no enforcement powers with the Weber County Commissioners or legal staff. He also agreed to contact the Powder Mountain petitioners to dicuss their point of view on this issue.

Your Ogden Valley representatives at the meeting.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Where is our County leadership?

In today's Examiner, Mark De Caria remarks leave us dumbfounded. He says the issue on the Lythgoe conflict of interest is a moot point. I guess that he doesn't realize the incorporation is not an accomplished fact as of this date and Lythgoe is still sitting on the OVPC after her disingenuous duplicity regarding the Powder Mountain incorporation petition. If in fact it is a moot point, you would think that our elected County Attorney would still want to examine the recent activities of Lythgoe because of the obvious public facts that have surfaced about her actions.

It is clear the County Commissioners do not want to face the music on Lythgoe's conflict of interest actions, since they are the people that appointed her. Her actions of participating with the other OVPC commissioners on the conditions for the Powder Mountain rezone and at the same time being involved with the clandestine preparation of the incorporation petition for a Powder Mountain town is an obvious example of conflict of interest by an appointee in the County. Add to that mix, that she and her family stand to benefit by any large development at Powder Mountain, makes it obvious that this was the intent by Lythgoe from the start.

We read with amusement that De Caria and Zogmaister indicated that the public can get this issue before the County Commission "If they are concerned." Where have they been? They have received numerous letters and calls about this issue, even Zogmaister admitted that they are aware of the public's concerns. I guess it would be asking too much for both the County Attorney's office and the Weber County Commissioners to take the initiative to look into this questionable Lythgoe behavior regarding Powder Mountain. It appears they feel it is not their responsibility to stand up for integrity and the public trust regarding our Ogden Valley Commission members.

The failure to deal with this issue aggressively is as old as time itself. These Weber County Commissioners refuse to admit that they made a mistake appointing Jamie Lythgoe. When confronted with the facts of her duplicity and the subsequent obvious conflict of interest actions, we continue to witness a lack of interest or initiative from the County leadership to examine Lythgoe's actions

We should contact our County Commissioners and call for a public hearing on the Lythgoe conflict of interest issue. This is not just a legal issue, it is one of public perception and trust by an appointed County official and deserves full exposure and review.

Larry and Sharon Zini

Saturday, April 19, 2008

An Open Letter to the County Commission, Planning Staff and Planning Commission

April 19, 2008

As a concerned citizen and past planning commissioner, I am aware that each year county legal staff gives a serious overview in a public meeting of the obligation of planning commissioners to be open about declaring their conflicts of interest, particularly as it involves “a financial interest, direct or indirect” and the importance of recusing themselves where such a conflict may exist. Jamie Lythgoe, real estate broker, is perceived by many to have a serious conflict of interest. She is one of the signers of the petition to incorporate Powder Mountain. By signing the incorporation petition, she effectively takes the following positions:

1. She has shown that despite her claims of no conflict of interest, that she has a clear interest in and association with Powder Mountain.

2. She supports the move to bypass the zoning regulations of Weber County, regulations which as a commissioner she should be upholding.

3. She has shown loyalty to the family business at Powder Mountain over loyalty to the common good. The incorporation petition deprives citizens of their constitutional rights to vote on their own jurisdiction. It deprives them of the right to vote on the people who will supposedly “represent” them and who will have the power to tax them. The petitioners have taken advantage of an unconstitutional loophole created by the state legislature.

4. She has refused to recuse herself when there was an obvious family involvement in the Powder Mountain issue. Though legal counsel may not have been aware at the time, the community was very aware of this involvement. At the last minute she abstained from the vote when she should have recused herself from the issue entirely, from the beginning.

While planning commission procedures suggest not excluding whole categories of business or professional people, it is clear that when the county does appoint a realtor/real estate developer/broker to the planning commission it naturally sets up conflicts of interest, both real and perceived. If this appointee denies, approves, or places certain conditions on a project, it ultimately affects whether their brokerage firm may get the listings on those projects. It puts that commissioner in a potential position of handing out favors to others or helping to create zoning laws which are favorable to themselves and their colleagues. In addition, allowing such a commissioner to vote on projects that are in direct competition with their own developments, is in my mind, an even more flagrant conflict of interest. At the moment, we have only one such realtor/broker/real estate developer on the commission but it would be wise to consider that these same conflicting conditions will apply not only to present commissioners but to future appointees.

It is unconscionable for Mrs. Lythgoe, or any other commissioner, to vote on issues that directly affect their own family’s business or real estate interests, including any future proposed developments by other signers of the incorporation petition. But even more importantly, Mrs. Lythgoe should not vote on issues that affect Powder Mountain’s direct competitors i.e. Wolf Mountain, Wolf Creek, Snow Basin or any new resorts which could come before the commission.

I am aware of one county board whose members are required to sign a statement disclosing their affiliations, both in business and in the community, as well as an ethics agreement. These signed statements are notarized and on file. I would ask the you to institute such a policy with planning commissioners and that it be updated yearly, including any ownership in holding companies and LLCs.

A wise legal counsel once said, “The integrity of the process is as important as the decision that is rendered.”

Sharon Holmstrom
3128 North River Drive, Eden, Utah 84310

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Proposed Study Plan: Utah Property Tax System

The Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee has provided a schedule of meetings to examine the property tax system in Utah for this year. Our representative Gage Froerer ( suggests than all interested taxpayers participate.

This is an opportunity for taxpayers to learn about the property tax system and possibly participate in any improvements or changes that may come from these meetings.

Proposed Study Plan: Utah's Property Tax System
Tentative Proposed Extra Meeting Dates

April 16, 2008 Draft

I. Overview of Utah's Property Tax System -- April 16th (interim day)
A. Constitutional Provisions
B. History
C. Base and Rates
D. Truth in Taxation
E. Comparisons with Other States
F. Property Tax Relief
G. Review of Previous Legislative Studies

II. Rates --
A. Review of Existing Rate Authority and Levels
1. Property Tax Authority of Elected and Appointed Officials
B. The _Truth in Taxation_ Property Tax Rate Setting Process
1. County and Other Local Government Officials
2. Utah State Tax Commission
3. Ways to improve and facilitate public involvement in the process

III. Base -- May 21st (interim day) & June 4th (tentative extra meeting)
A. Fair Market Value
B. Exemptions
1. Use
2 Ownership
C. Aquisition Date Value
D. Percent of Fair Market Value
E. Fair Market Value as of a Certain Date
F. Base and Revenue Volatility
G. Other Base Options

IV. Administration -- June 18th (interim day)
A. Assessing standards and practices
1. County Assessors
2. Utah State Tax Commission
B. Tools for appraising Fair Market Value
1. Disclosure of sales price
2. Hedonic Price Models/Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal Systems
3. Collecting and updating property characteristics
4. Other tools
C. Collection and Compliance
D. Assessing and Collecting Levy/Funding Issues
E. Property Tax Relief Programs

V. Incidence -- August 6th (tentative extra meeting)
A. Alternative Theories
B. Incidence for Utah Households
C. Business Property

VI. Options for Changes to Utah's Property Tax System -- August 20th (interim)

VII. Other Issues -- To Be Scheduled

Future Interim Meeting Dates and Proposed Extra Meetings Dates:
September 3rd (tentative extra meeting)
September 17th (interim)
October 1st (tentative extra meeting)
October 15th (interim)
November 19th (interim)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Help Save our Ogden Valley Montessori School

My name is Miss Nicole Householder and I am the Upper Elementary teacher for the Ogden Valley Montessori School in Eden, Utah. I have just been informed that the Upper Elementary class may lose their building for next school year because there is not enough money for the rent of the building.

It is crucial that these children are able to stay in this building close by to the other school campus. We need to have community and the Upper Elementary need to be near by the other students. I and other teachers have been working on and planning reading programs, outdoor classroom activities that would encompass the Upper Elementary and the Toddler and Primary classrooms working together. On Fridays the Lower and Upper Elementary join together for P.E. class here in the backyard of the school: we go hiking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, and activities at the park. Having the school be close by enriches the Upper Elementary program and truly encompasses the unity of the entire school.If our school location were to change, all of the elements of the Upper Elementary classroom would be altered.

I am writing this letter to ask for your donation to be put towards the rent of the building. By April 15, 2008 I am trying to raise roughly about $10,000 for the rent of the building to occupy the Upper Elementary class for the school year of 2008-2009. This is a conditional donation, it will only be for the rent of the building, and if I do not raise enough money your donation will be sent back to you. Checks or money will not be processed until the end of April if enough money is raised.

I am not asking for large or small donations, any amount would help for the cause of keeping the building. If you would like to participate please send me the donation in the mail. If you are not interested in participating you have already helped by at least taking the time to read this letter.

Thank you,
Nicole Householder

If you have any questions please call me at 801-745-1122.
Email @
Nicole Householder
PO Box 412
Eden, UT 84310

Testimonial by Geradette Barkey
Montessori Education: Upper Elementary Class

I do not know where to begin to express all the benefits I have seen from sending my two children to the Ogden Valley Montessori School.
My son, who is in the Upper Elementary class, has flourished, blossoming into an independent, self-assured and self-motivated individual, whereas before he was shy and quiet.
Maria Montessori and her teaching method encourage children to develop these qualities, which even we as adults strive to accomplish in ourselves. Children who are helped to develop these qualities find themselves empowered to succeed at anything they try in life.
Students at Ogden Valley Montessori School are encouraged to think outside the box that traditional education has set for our children! They are allowed the freedom to explore and go further with projects. Creative ideas and individualism are encouraged and embraced.
My husband and I sacrifice financially to raise and to pay for our children’s education, but I believe with my whole heart and soul that this school and method of education are developing in my children a passion for learning. They do not want to miss school and my son would actually prefer to be sick on the week-ends!
As my children continue on to high school and college, I know that I have set the ground work for them by sending them to the Ogden Valley Montessori School. They will fly and continue to carry this love of education throughout their life.

Geradette Barkey

Powder Mountain Incorporation Petition for all to view

Once again, one of our humble readers came through and replied to our request for the original Petition submitted by Powder Mountain. Our apologies, as we should have posted this long ago.

Click here to view the petition in it's entirety. We think you will see some items of interest. It is a large file that may take some time to download, so be patient.

Pay particular attention to the status of several of the LLC's or corporations. Some are delinquent according to state records and should at least wave a small red flag with Mr. Bischoff and company at the County Commission offices.

Also, we find the personal addresses of the Petitioners to be quite interesting - Hawaii, San Diego, Las Vegas, Colorado, Park City....

And we have mentioned fishy ties before with Western America Holding, LLC (Mark Arnold and Lee Daniels) being the "new" owners of Powder Mountain, while Western America Development Corporation, Inc. owns adjacent property and consists of Cobabe's daughters as principals.

According to State records, the former has a "status date" 5/14/04 while the later has a "status date" of 5/13/04. Is it just a coincidence that both companies were created within a day of each other? Cobabe's (and their Planning Commissioner granddaughter Jamie Lythgoe) have claimed to have sold the resort with no ties except a small adjacent property, but they are BIG players in the "Powderville" incorporation scheme. Why?

And according to our informal poll, only two petitioners actually:

  1. Have an Ogden Valley residence
  2. Are not related to the Cobabe's

That would be Rulon and Kathy Jones and Ricky and Theresa Stearman.

It is a large file but a worthwhile read, and it certainly gives justification to "Future Powderville" resident, Darla VanZeben, who recently spelled it out for the Standard Examiner.

Comments anyone?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Powderville Incorporation - Do you have a copy of the original petition?

One of our humble readers would like a copy of Powder Mountain's Incorporation petition that was filed with the county in January.

It was also suggested that we post the petition for all to review, and we think that is a fantastic idea.

If you have a copy of or access to the petition, please forward it to us at so we can let the light shine in.

Consequences of Incorporation

As we in Ogden Valley wait to find out if the Powder Mountain ownership will opt to continue with the town incorporation petition or negotiate a compromise with the Weber County Commission, it may be the ideal time to reflect on how much more is at stake than the civil rights of the affected homeowners if the incorporation is approved.

While protecting the basic civil rights of those homeowners is critically important, we must realize if those rights are honored, the incorporation must fail.  We must recognize that there are those who would ignore those rights, thus we will continue to focus on the other significant issues regarding the incorporation of a town at Powder Mountain.

If the incorporation is approved, all adjacent properties to the actual Powder Mountain resort area that are within the town boundaries will be free to develop under density and lot size controls established by the new town's planning commission or town council. The net effect of this could be that those Valley residents adjacent to or included in the incorporation area of Powder Mountain could witness development with lot sizes and density numbers that would not be acceptable under the existing Ogden Valley General Plan and Weber County ordinances. There is also the specter that other types of zoning and development that are not residential could be approved on such town properties since Weber County would have no control on town zoning or planning issues.

It is important to note that the incorporation area is approximately 26 square miles, and that it includes the Ogden Valley hillsides above the currently occupied land from approximately Middle Fork to Liberty town center.

Decisions of the proposed town council and planning commission will be in control of the Powder Mountain ownership and large town land owners in and around the resort for at least the first two to four years.

Most residents in the Valley are aware of the identities of the main property owners that currently have considerable land holdings within the proposed town boundaries. The town incorporation will be a financial windfall for most of them. Despite the repeated denials of these property owners, it is apparent this was their goal (in concert with the Powder Mountain ownership) from the beginning when the initial rezone and subsequent incorporation petitions were filed.

Finally, the town incorporation will do nothing to resolve the single road access issue with the inherent safety and traffic load problems from an eight to ten fold increase in vehicle numbers calculated from Powder Mountain’s own traffic study. In addition, incorporation will not address the numerous issues which were the subject of the other conditions attached to the grant of the rezone by the Ogden Valley Planning Commission.  It will be as if those issues and the concerns surrounding them do not exist.

The Powderville Neighborhood Steering Committee
The VCRD Staff