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Monday, March 31, 2008

Weber County Commission Agenda April 1st

The Weber County Commission meeting agenda for tomorrow, April 1 will include the following:

Request for approval of a Resolution of the Board of Commissioners of Weber County appointing members to the Liberty Park Service Area Board.

And, continued from March 25: A public hearing regarding a request to amend the approved site plan and increase residential and commercial area for a parcel located in CVR-1 Zone on the southwest corner at intersection of HWY. 39 and Old Snowbasin Road and approve a new Zoning Development Agreement.

10:00 am
Weber County Commission Chamber
2380 Washington Blvd.
Ogden, UT

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Views from a first time visitor to Ogden Valley

Our post, "A letter to the forum from one of the Powder Mountain Town Incorporation petitioners" prompted a very poignant response from a recent first time visitor to Ogden Valley. Since it was buried under many posts, we thought it appropriate to post it here.

There is some wise advice for Powder Mountain owners:

I'm a recent, first-time visitor to Ogden Valley and Powder Mountain. 46 year old business owner from Boston. I fell in love with the whole area and I can guarantee that others of my type will for the same reason: natural beauty, unspoiled, seemingly controlled development so far. I hope Powder Mountain stays like...well...Powder Mountain. And I think it will because I doubt there will be the market demand for a "Snowmass-like" development there. Why? 1.) It's not Colorado 2.) Utah has a "weirdness" factor to outsiders/ potential investors for many reasons 3.) the mega rich who will drive up values want to be around the mega-rich so they will go and buy at Snowmass or Park city / Deer Valley. Investing in Ogden Valley is a bit like pioneering.

I am considering buying in Ogden CITY because of the potential THAT city has to provide quick access to worldclass skiing and things to do off the slopes.

Ogden Valley is a special place but IMHO it attracts a different type of investor and speculator -- like me -- an environmentallly consciouss, telemark/ backcountry skiing weirdo. My wealthier friends have NO DESIRE to drive the extra 45 mins when they can hop out of their first class seats at the airport and be in Snowbird or Park City so much faster.

And I do respect the locals -- but I also see a better real estate opportunity in Ogden City; I can buy a 3 bedroom historic bungalow for $75 K and be near bars and brew pubs and movie theaters. I have to drive up the canyon but I have to get in my car anywhere I stay.

The mega-wealth investors need mega-returns and I (personally) don't see Powder Mountain attracting the type of people I know who are also shopping Snowmass, Vail, and Big Sky's mega-rich community (can't remember the name of it).

Powder Mountain is not a destination resort and the prospective real estate developers should do some market research with prospective buyers like the ones that I know and they'll find out that it might not be a good idea to (ruin it).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ULCT Property Tax Discussion tonight in South Ogden

The Utah League of Cities and Towns is hosting a Property Tax Discussion tonight in South Ogden. Interestingly, the ULCT is the same group who supported HB466, the infamous bill that allowed Powder Mountain to file for incorporation.

The text is quite small, so we will copy it here:


Does anyone really know how property tax rates are determined? What is truth-in-taxation? How can property tax revenue not increase during times of significant increases in property values? How are the homes assessed in your community? Citizens often turn to their local mayors and city council members to answer these questions…but answering these questions is not always easy. (A shorter version of this same presentation will be part of the agenda at our Midyear Conference in St. George April 9-11.)

Roger Tew, ULCT Sr. Policy Analyst, will partner with your local county assessor to provide a short presentation and answer your property tax questions…so you can be better prepared this budget season to respond to any property tax questions your constituents may have.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ogden Valley Planning Commission meeting today! Blacksmith shop and Rivers subdivision on the agenda

Our apologies for the late notice, but the Ogden Valley Planning Commission will be meeting this afternoon at 5:30 PM.

Click here to view the complete agenda:

Once again, there are several important items on the agenda including another request for a rezone of the Blacksmith shop that was tabled August 28, 2007.

Also of interest is the final approval for the controversial Rivers Subdivision in South Huntsville. The high water table should prove interesting this spring when developers start construction in the wetlands.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Has Powder Mountain Ownership Changed?


We were perplexed a couple of days ago when we read "Powder Mountain Has Big Expansion Plans" on the normally reputable site.

The article stated,

New owners Randy Breitenbach (Breitburn Energy Co.) and Doug Ballinger (along with the Achenbachs) allowed the area to run under existing management this
year, but next season may be a whole new ball of snow.

We were surprised to see the names of the new owners and wondered if the resort could have changed hands overnight and under the cover of darkness.

We contacted the author and have yet to hear from her. However, we just noticed a comment to the article that states, "The Achenbach's, Randy Breitenbach and Doug Ballinger own Powder Mountain Catskiing in Whistler Canada, and I don't think they would never put in a police station."

We would bet Ms. Adler mistakenly associated the owners of a Whistler Catskiing operation with our greedy fascists at Powderville, but you can bet we will keep our ears open. Who knows, the Achenbach's, Randy Breitenbach and Doug Ballinger may have a higher regard for the Constitutional rights of citizens.

UPDATE 3/22/08 @ 0600 AM

The owners mentioned did in fact purchase Powder Mountain Catskiing near Whistler, BC.

In contrast to our infamous Powder Mountain owners, it appears that the owners of the Canadian operation are actually improving their facilities for the sake of creating a better ski operation. Our owners insist on an elaborate development scheme designed to rape the land with the maximum possible density so they can cash in on the maximum possible profit, all at the expense of neighbors as well as years of land use planning.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Right To Vote on Incorporation

We strongly encourage all of our citizens to read Bill Siegel's guest commentary in the opinion pages of today's Standard Examiner. Mr. Siegel has stepped up for the citizens of Ogden Valley that will be disenfranchised by the incorporation of the Powder Mountain town.

Mr. Siegel has displayed the courage and honesty seldom seen from most local officials. You may want to drop him a note or call to let him know how you feel about his commentary.

You will find his contact information at under Resources and Contact decision makers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Political Process in Utah & Delegate Selection

Political Parties:“Organizations that seek to influence public policy by putting it’s own members into positions of government authority.”

Last night Sharon and I attended a seminar at Weber State to learn what we could of the grass roots political process in our State, the Caucus. It appeared to us that most of those in attendance last night have ideas about being delegates or running for city, county, state or national office.

The general tone and direction of the seminar was to explain the Caucus process for both political parties and how to participate.

March 25th will be Caucus night in Weber County. The rules and guidelines are simple if you wish to attend:

• Go to the Republican or Democratic web sites and find out which precinct you live in and where your caucus will be held. You must be 18 and live in the precinct to participate.

• If a Republican, you must also be registered as a Republican if you wish to participate. You can register the night of the caucus if you wish. Democrats do not have to be registered as such to participate in their caucus.

Prior to the caucus if you wish to become a delegate:

1. Determine where your caucus is. Go to your party website.

2. Get people who live within the same precinct to attend with you in support of your selection.

3. Prepare some remarks making a case for your candidacy VS. someone else, 60 - 90 seconds maximum.

On the night of the Caucus - be on time, do not show up late.

Probable Agenda: (usually determined by state or county parties)

1. Patriotic moment (pledge of allegiance or prayer or both)

2. Discussion of the importance of elections

3. Election of precinct officers

4. Election of County Delegates

5. Election of State Delegates

The idea of the Caucus process is to allow anyone that wishes to be a delegate, and can bring along enough support to the Caucus, the possibility of being elected as a delegate.

If you choose to participate be prepared to discuss the following:

1. Your position on issues

2. Position vis-à-vis some particular interest groups.

3. Position with regard to particular candidates.

The example given was the Teachers groups. They have been successful in having many of their group attend the caucus meetings, in controlling much of the agenda at those meetings, and deciding who the delegates

Other dates to remember:


4/26/08 - Weber County Democratic convention

5/10/08 - Utah State Democratic convention


4/12/08 - Weber County GOP Nominating convention

5/10/08 - Utah State Republican convention

This is an opportunity for anyone that is interested in being a delegate or just working for their political party. Keep in mind that this process determines your County Commissioners and other important County officials.

Larry and Sharon Zini

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How did it come to this?

Hurray! The Utah State Legislature passed and the Governor signed HB164! From this point on, no longer will aggressive developers be allowed to corral 100 to 1000 unwilling and innocent citizens to incorporate their own private, corporate towns.

Unfortunately they left a few of us, namely the residents of the Town of Powder Mountain, embroiled in a battle to have a say in whether we want to be part of the town and to be given a vote in the selection of our own representatives. These rights are guaranteed by the constitution: the right to equal protection under the law and the right to elect our own representatives to bodies authorized to levy taxes upon us. According to insiders at the Utah State House and Senate, the House leadership refused to have the full House consider any bill which included a retroactive clause to repair existing damage, saying they felt it was “unfair to the developers” who applied for incorporation under the old laws. Unfair to the developers, who rushed to take advantage of a law the legislature admits was a mistake? Or unfair to the developers, who contribute large sums to their political campaigns and lobbied mightily to keep this law on the books?

So they are afraid of being unfair to the developers, what about us? Last year’s law, according to many politicians, was one of the worst laws they have ever passed. They didn’t read the law, they didn’t debate the law, and no one voted against the law. Because there was no debate, the State Attorney General’s office didn’t review the law. In anyone’s judgment, allowing rich corporations to draft 100 unwilling citizens into a town and then appoint the puppet town council to draft law and tax policy in their favor is immoral, unconstitutional and downright reprehensible.

What are our options now that we have appealed to our legislators and they have refused to help us? We could roll over, accept our plight and live as pawns under our illegitimate town council. Or we can fight. We held a meeting with a majority of citizens from our little “town” and agreed that we will fight for our rights as free citizens of this great country. Our first appeal is to the Weber County Commissioners, who can either approve the incorporation or stand up for their constituents and refuse to sign because the law is so blatantly unconstitutional. We believe they will have the courage to do this, for when they took the oath of office they swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.

If not, we will to take our fight to the State of Utah, who ironically has rushed to correct this law our representatives all thought was so wrong. We will be forced to raise money, hire a lawyer, and sue the state for our constitutional rights. The state will in turn use OUR (i.e., the state taxpayers’) money to defend a law which they have already said was a very bad law indeed. How did it come to this?

James P. Halay, Deja Mitchell, Ryan Bushell, Bill and Kathy Dowell
Currently of Eden, Utah

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A letter to the forum from one of the Powder Mountain Town Incorporation petitioners


For months, we have been asking how the the rezone or incorporation of Powder Mountain would benefit anyone, other than the greedy owners and developers. We have even been asking for input from the owners in the form of valley wide meetings, similar to those hosted in Cache Valley, or at least written comments to our forum. To date, we have received neither.

However, Terri Stearman, neighbor, friend and one of the "Powderville" Incorporation petitioners (in favor of Powder Mountain Incorporation), has graciously responded to our pleas.

While we fundamentally disagree with the Stearman's and their support of such an immoral (and we think unconstitutional) move that removes citizen's basic voting rights, we appreciate the input to our open forum.

Read the other side of the story, our humble readers. And be sure to leave your comments at the end of the post.

March 4, 2008

To Whom It May Concern:

My husband and I read the articles and comments on the Ogden Valley Forum about twice weekly because we like to keep updated on what is happening in our community. I am totally dismayed that you seem to only publish thoughts that are protesting the incorporation of Powder Mountain as a town (not Powderville as many cynical comments contend). I feel sorry for Erin Stokes who spoke up and revealed her reasons for favoring the incorporation. She has been personally attacked as “one of those greedy realtors, damn them to hell”. Other comments have been made that suggest anybody who is in favor of the incorporation ignorant or “in the pockets” of Powder Mountain and if asked will serve on the town council as puppets of the owners of Powder Mountain. Have any of you tried to gather information from those of us who do favor the incorporation of Powder Mountain town? We are here in the community. Personally, I am the type of person who tries very hard to avoid confrontation so I usually don’t rant and rave about issues, even those that are important to me. I respect my neighbors and have no ill feelings toward any of them who may disagree with me regarding this issue or any others. I am a registered Republican but do not throw barbs at members of other political parties who disagree with me on many issues. I grew up a Catholic and am currently a non-practicing Presbyterian. I absolutely do not harbor hate or disregard for people who believe differently from me.

The Powder Mountain proponents have been referred to as “former friends”. This is so sad. Cannot someone disagree with a person, friend, neighbor or relative for fear of the relationship being terminated? This way of thinking reminds me of the elementary school playground clubs of “We hate boys” or “We hate girls”. I would like to think that we have outgrown those childish games where we believed you play the game my way or you go home.

The incorporation of Powder Mountain is not without difficult hurdles. I understand the concerns of citizens in the Ogden Valley. Nobody will be affected more regarding the steep, winding road that leads to the resort than we do. We live about 50 feet from that road on the way to the ski resort and yet we can see advantages to the development of Powder Mountain as a four-season resort. Many people will be able to STAY on the mountain when they come to visit rather than driving back and forth to/from the Ogden area in order to have a nice meal, go shopping or enjoy a nice evening with friends listening to live music and maybe even spin around the dance floor a few times with the people they love.

How many seasonal employees are forced to drive back and forth in able to reside in reasonably priced homes or apartments? If I remember the laws of Utah, every town that incorporates must make available some low-cost housing. I’ll bet there are quite a few lift operators, mechanics, food service personnel or ticket sellers who would jump at the chance to reside nearby!

There are many reasons to endorse the incorporation of Powder Mountain. I ask you, the protesters, to inquire around your neighborhoods and find the people who disagree with your stance. Please stop using derogatory names for the people who disagree with you. And please consider “change” in your lives. I know that change is tough. It can be very scary. I was an Air Force wife for 30 years. We made major moves either across country or overseas ten times. When we bought and moved into our “retirement” home here in the valley eight years ago, it was the 19th home for us. It was painful to leave behind family and friends. It was, at times, excruciating to always be the new kid on the block. Of our three children, one attended high school in two different countries, not including the U.S.; one attended high school in two different countries and in the state of NH. Our third attended high school in three different states. Do you think change was easy for them? But they are all grown with families of their own. We recently asked them how they felt about all that moving and the hardships that came along. All three of them said they wouldn’t have had it any other way. They learned so much about the world rather than only the small area where they grew up, like I did when I was raised in Colorado. They learned about so many different cultures and were able to see first-hand how fortunate we are as Americans. Change can bring opportunities that often would not have been available otherwise. Change can be about making new friends, as well as keeping old friends. Change can bring the opportunity to learn a new job or craft or to become someone you never dreamed you could be. So please try to embrace change or at least look at the positive experience change can be for all of us.

I would like to make one more point. When my husband’s name was mentioned as one of the original petition signers for the incorporation of Powder Mountain, in an article a while back (I believe it was the Standard Examiner) it was mentioned that he was a Powder Mountain employee. Let me clarify that he is a seasonal employee at Powder Mountain as a national ski patroller. He does it because he loves to ski and he loves to help people. He does not do it because he makes big bucks and is “in the pocket” of Powder Mountain owners. It is his part-time, fun thing to do after serving in the U.S. Air Force for 30 years. So please end the insinuation that he is one of the owner’s good old boys who will cater to their every whim. I, also, am a seasonal part-time employee at Powder Mountain working in the ticket sales department. The commute is quick which means we don’t spend a lot of time or energy commuting to/from a part-time job. It gives us the opportunity to meet lots of people, both local and non-local. But these jobs DO NOT afford us the opportunity to line our pockets with Powder Mountain money!

If the incorporation does go through and my husband or I are asked to serve on the town council, you can be assured we will discuss and vote in favor of what we believe is the best thing for the town or community not the owners. Local community service is in my husband’s blood as his parents both serve in various capacities in their small town in Kentucky; and have been serving since they retired from the military in 1966. I have served in many volunteer positions throughout our years in the military such as the American Red Cross, schools, thrift shops that benefit local charities and local animal shelters. My husband and I both volunteer as poll workers here in the local community. Do not stereotype us as “perps” or “former friends” or “puppets” or any other derogatory name. You don’t even know us.

Respectfully submitted to our friends and neighbors,

Terri (Theresa) Stearman

UPDATE: 5:00 pm

Be sure to read Rudi's response to Ms. Stearman's missive by visiting Weber County Forum

Thursday, March 06, 2008

HB 164 Signed by Utah Governor

HB 164, the town incorporation bill to correct the flawed town incorporation legislation of last year's HB466, was signed into law yesterday. The bill does not include a retroactive provision that would have addressed the Powder Mountain town incorporation. This is disappointing, but the bill does insure that no additional town incorporation's will happen in Utah without the affected resident's involvement and participation.

The passage of HB164 does not preclude future legal action by the affected homeowners if deemed necessary. However, if a reasonable compromise rezone agreement can be reached between the County and the Powder Mountain owners that is satisfactory to all parties on the density and traffic safety issues along with other conditions, no legal challenges would be required.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Letter To the Weber County Commission

Dear Commissioners:

I am a proponent of an economically feasible development plan for the expansion of the Powder Mountain resort. I do believe that it is not unreasonable to put conditions on the development that helps assure that the future resort fits into, and becomes an asset to the community. They should also be able to exercise their current unit density entitlements -- but they should not be given new ones at this time.

However, the short sighted investors in Powder Mountain are attempting to create an incorporated city that would do a great injustice to the citizens of Eden, Ogden Valley and Utah. In addition, it will do irreparable harm to the overall economic potential for Ogden Valley to develop as a rural recreational resort community -- capable of competing with other established quality resort areas throughout the United States and world.

Aside from the fact that their tactics are morally and ethically bankrupt, for the variety of reasons you have been bombarded with, not the least of which is taking the basic rights of democracy away from the 100 citizens imprisoned in the proposed new city, incorporating Powder Mountain and developing it with such high density as per their public statements will destroy Ogden Valley's future resort growth potential. It will deteriorate the very recreational qualities the public desires and that Ogden Valley needs to be successful in the highly competitive destination resort market - i.e., excessive traffic congestion;
air pollution; unsafe and unpredictable winter access to the resort (closed road); unneeded destruction of wildlife habitat; unnecessary water pollution; combative friction between the resort and local residents; and excessive greed and ill will within the community in which they have to exist. This is also, and will continue to be, a gigantic public relations disaster for the owners, for Weber County and for Utah. Investors don't like uncertainty.

I encourage you to do a deep soul search on this issue. Side with the citizens and deny or delay their petition to incorporate. This simply isn't an issue to say we'll fix next time around.

Their petition should be denied or delayed for on of the following reasons.

1. With the "opt out" of Wolf Creek, an interpretation could be made that a complete new petition needs to be submitted. Two petitioners, may no longer be part of the proposed incorporated area given the Wolf Creek "opt out."

2. HB466 is likely unconstitutional, as it takes away the right for the citizens in an incorporated area to immediately vote for their representatives and assess their tax obligations. Perhaps the county should join the citizens in a suit to determine the constitutional validity of this law?

3. The way in which this incorporation took place is simply wrong. It should be denied or delayed until it is scrutinized further. With real estate pricing dropping rapidly, the whole valuation of all property included within the incorporated could and should be reviewed and studied further.

4. There is, arguably, an "island" (open for interpretation) of property right at the base of the resort (imagine -- right at the base) that was left out of the incorporation that compromises the total property valuation included within the petition. This issue may ultimately only be determined through litigation.

It is unfortunate, given all the efforts of the various stakeholders involved in helping contribute to successful future growth plans for Ogden Valley, that these Powder Mountain developers chose confrontation and tyranny over reason and compromise. After all, their rezone was approved without taking a single existing property right away from them.

I have been in Ogden Valley my whole life, and I have never seen an issue as divisive as this one. It is my hope that you will exercise your fiduciary responsibilities and good judgment to stop and/or delay this incorporation with every means possible.

Best regards,

Kirk Langford
Chairman Eden Planning Committee
Box 600
Eden, Utah 84310

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Powder Mountain Town on hold!

At this morning's County Commission meeting, the Weber County Commission has put the Powder Mountain Incorporation discussion and vote on hold pending discussions on a possible compromise between the County and the Powder Mountain owners.

Thanks to the Craig Dearden and the other Weber County Commissioners, who are trying to work out some kind of compromise for the affected homeowners, Ogden Valley, and Weber County residents.

Steve Clarke Of Eden spoke at the meeting and applauded the action by the Commissioners. He also suggested that any compromise be presented for public hearings and discussion before the Commissioners make a final decision.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Letter to the Weber County Commissioners

This is the text of a letter sent by 63 of the Eden area homeowners involved in the proposed town incorporation by Powder Mountain. It has been edited for length, but contains the pertinent points for consideration by the Weber County Commissioners.

Dear Commissioners,

We appreciate your consideration of this letter in opposition to the incorporation petition for the creation of the town of Powder Mountain. We ask that you give this matter your fullest and most careful attention. There is no need to rush to judgment on this petition. If you consider that it must be done under the law, there is time to do it right.

We would like to begin by pointing out the obvious, that the state law under which this petition is submitted (Section 10-2-125 of the Utah State Code) is monumentally unfair. Residents in this proposed town have no right to vote on the incorporation, although residents in city incorporations do have that right. They have no right to be involved in the petition process, although residents in city annexations have that right. They have no right to be eligible for appointment to the Town Council unless they are on the approved list by the absentee landowner petitioners, although residents in towns and cities have historically had that right and possess it still in every situation but this one. Requirements of law demanded of city incorporations and of town incorporations under base petitions are unfairly waived by this statute for qualifying petitions. This state law offends every notion of fair play, due process, equal protection, the right to self-government, and the right to vote.

Notwithstanding these statutory injustices, in order that the voice of the residents may be heard we submit to you a petition of a majority of the eligible voters in this proposed town rejecting its creation. It cannot be said that perhaps a silent majority favors incorporation. The majority is not silent, and it expressly rejects incorporation.

In all fairness to your county citizens who have no other protectors in this situation, we call upon you as County Commissioners to look to your own consciences and find that this monstrous state law is unconstitutional, and to refuse to follow it by denying this petition. Should the petitioners then press a lawsuit to compel compliance with this unfair statute, we call upon you to direct the County Attorney to challenge the constitutionality of this law in court.

If for any reason you feel you cannot do this, then in such circumstances as these you as County Commissioners have a duty to require the petitioners to meet every last detail of this unfair law. There is no legal presumption that a petition is valid; it must be shown to be valid. You should require strict and absolute compliance with every requirement set forth in the statute.

If these independent verifications are not present, we ask you to reject the petition. No presumption of accuracy in the petition should be indulged. We call upon you to require proof upon each point, and not to accept the petitioners simple assertion that these requirements are met. Again we say that there is no need to rush to judgment on this petition. You can and should deny this petition until every single requirement of the law is shown to be met.


63 citizens owning property within the boundaries of the proposed Powder Mountain Town

(Attached are the signatures of the 63 citizens)

Powder Mountain Incorporation Resolution on Tuesdays Weber County Commission agenda - BE THERE!

Once again, as of 9 am this morning the agenda for tomorrows Weber County Commission meeting was not posted, even though the county web site states agendas will be posted the Friday prior to the Tuesday meeting.

And curiously, the Powder Mountain Incorporation issue is on the agenda:

1. Discussion and/or action on the request to exclude certain properties from the proposed incorporation of the town of Powder Mountain.

2. Discussion and/or action on "A Resolution of the board of county commissioners of Weber County granting a petition for Incorporation of the town of Powder Mountain."

While it is late notice, we urge everyone to attend the Commission meeting to see our commissioners in action.

Here are the details:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

10 AM

Weber County Commission Chambers (Weber Center)

2380 Washington Blvd.
Ogden, UT

This is the day we have all been looking forward to - See you in the Chamber!


We overlooked some important letters to the editor last week, the first from Kimball Wheatley of Huntsville, who also authored the important letter to Powderville residents in early February.

Jason Libert of Ogden also chimed in with his appropriate rant asking for some transparency.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Heavy Snow Shuts Down Road

From Sunday's Standard Examiner - Top Of Utah

"Eden- Heavy snow and slick road conditions forced the Weber County Sheriff's Office to close Powder Mountain Road for nearly Three hours Saturday.

Heavy snow began falling around 3 P.M., just as many skiers began drive home. One car rolled on its side and a few others slid off the road, said Lt. Phil Howell. There were no reported injuries, he said.

Deputies shut down the road to clear up the accidents and allow road crews to spread sand on icy areas."

The above article is a clear example of things to come with Powder Mountain Road in the future if the owners put their planned 3700 buildings up on Powder Mountain using the single road that now exists. Imagine this road with eight to ten times the amount of traffic and all negative aspects those increased numbers will bring to Ogden Valley.

Utah Wingman for Property Tax Re-Forum hits the Cover of the Standard, while Huntsville, aka Mayberry, hits the cover of the Life section

Ogden Valley was in the limelight of the Standard Examiner as we had cover story's on the front page as well as the front page of the "Top of Utah" and "Life" sections.

D-Bell, founder of Utah Wingmen for Property Tax Re-Forum (Reform) was profiled in today's Standard Examiner cover story by Marshall Thompson.

We will include some excerpts here:

Utah legislators opposed to property tax reform better watch out — they have a Top Gun fighter pilot on their tails.
Spurred by a shocking increase in his property tax statement in August, Huntsville resident and Vietnam War veteran Donald Bell, “D-Bell” to everyone he meets, started talking with neighbors and elected officials to discover the cause.
“The more I found out,” he said, “the angrier I got.”

He continues:

“In the military you don’t get to speak out and participate,” he said. “So this is something new to me. I never thought I would be an activist.”

Now, six months after getting his tax statement, D-Bell doesn’t hesitate to use the word “revolt” when describing the seriousness of the movement. Until now, the former test pilot who once attended the Navy’s Top Gun school, has restricted himself to lobbying state representatives and blogging, at But if meaningful reform doesn’t happen this legislative session, he said, things could get ugly.
“We’ve held off so far, but we might have to march on the Capitol
building to get them (legislators) to pay attention,” he said.

And for one of his best quotes:

The tax fairness group opposes some new bills that would require counties to do mandatory computer mass assessments of property value every year, instead of once every five years. To D-Bell, anyone who thinks increasing the number of mass assessments will help with property tax inequity must “be on drugs.”
“Look what the computers did to us this year,” he said. “We need to change the whole system.”

We at the forum feel Ogden Valley is fortunate to have Machman (D-Bell) on our side.

Hanging on to Yesterday

Also from Sunday's Life section was a feature story from Brad Gillmam entitled "Hanging on to Yesterday." Click here to read the entire story, but we will post part of the story below.

What if Mayberry transformed into a resort town? Imagine the look on Gomer Pyle’s face as multimillion-dollar homes were being built around the city. What
if Opie’s school were closed down, and Aunt Bee packed up because she couldn’t afford the prices? While Mayberry may be fictional, Utah’s version is not. And things are not perfect in Mayberry. “We’re under attack from all angles,” said Richard Sorenson, a member of Huntsville’s town council. Huntsville rests on the eastern edge of Ogden Valley, which has seen large growth in the last decade.

“There are a lot of contractors coming into our valley, everybody wants a piece of the pie now — they’ve all discovered our little hidden secret,” said Jim Truett, another Huntsville town council member, who affectionately refers to the town as “Mayberry.”

Huntsville Mayor Jim McKay said most changes are outside the city. Resting outside of town are several large condominiums and mansions, the prices of which easily run several million dollars. That’s changed the look of the valley, McKay said.
The place has become a playground for visitors, what with Pineview Reservoir,
Powder Mountain and terrain that’s perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
“So the impact of the valley is on the valley as a whole,” McKay said.

Regarding taxes and the impact on Seniors as well as younger generations:

Most considered a 2007 tax hike an attack on senior citizens, “but it’s
also hard for the younger people up here,” said Erma Wilson of Huntsville. “It’s just unfair.” “I just don’t feel like it was the
valley that we moved up to.” Richard Sorenson was born and raised in the town,
but he has a hard time finding alumni. “I’m 43 and I can count on one hand, maybe two hands, the kids in the entire valley that are my age, that went to school with me that live up here,” Sorenson said. “And many of them would like to but can’t afford it up here.”

When asked about Valley School moving to Eden,

“I’m afraid our little town will dry up and blow away,” said Bonnie
Sorenson, Richard Sorenson’s mother and a 60-year resident of Huntsville.

Regarding declining volunteerism:

“People in this small of a town, it was almost like an obligation to
serve,” said [Donald aka D-Bell]Bell, of Huntsville.
But, “Times have changed and I miss that.”
It’s always been that give and-take relationship that made Huntsville tick. “I relied on them for things and they relied on me,” said [John- incorrectly named Scott in the article] Posnien, owner of the Shooting Star. “The camaraderie has been strong, been very good.”

One of Richard Sorenson’s duties is to get volunteers for several events.
But he sees the same volunteers over and over.
“I don’t get a lot of responses,” Sorenson said. “It’s
like 5 percent of the people do 95 percent of the work.


“If we don’t want a Wal-Mart across the street from us ... or if we
don’t want a bunch of condominiums, I personally think we need to look at
annexation very, very seriously,” Truett said.

“I don’t think there is a way to prevent it,” Sorenson said. “I think growth is inevitable. But I think it needs to be planned and we do whatever we can to grow responsibly.” There’s no guess as to what happens next, but Truett knows that the attacks have taken their toll ... “And we’re tired of fighting it.”