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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Helicopters in the Valley Part 2!


A guest post by Shanna Francis

Friday I spoke to Sean Wilkinson in the Weber County Planning office for an update on the helipad issue at the Red Moose Lodge.

Craig Olsen, owner of Diamond Peaks, for years had been landing his helicopters at Powder Mountain dropping off and picking up heli-skiers.

Apparently he’s had a falling out with Powder Mountain so has been working with Wolf Creek to set up a service from the Red Moose Lodge flying customers to and from skiing the back side of Powder Mountain on private property owned by a family by the name of Jensen.

A couple of weeks ago a cease and desist order was placed on the landing of helicopters at the Red Moose Lodge because such a use requires a Conditional Use Permit from the county. Eric Householder of Wolf Creek has since applied for such a permit, and the issue will come before the Ogden Valley Township Planning Commission on Tuesday night, Feb.23rd at 5:00 p.m. in the Commission chambers in Ogden.

Thus, today when I heard the helicopter buzzing the Valley back and forth all day, I got a hold of Sean Wilkinson at home to check to see if they had obtained some type of special permit to continue flying. He confirmed that they had not.

I went down to the Red Moose Lodge to take some pictures of the helicopter flying, and I was told by Craig Olsen that they had received permits from Commissioner Zogmaister. I was shocked and called her at home to confirm this. I was even more shocked to learn that, indeed, the Commissioners had granted a “temporary permit” for helicopters to land at the Red Moose Lodge; apparently something Commissioners can do—grant temporary permits.

Weber County Ordinance 31-6 states, “The granting of a temporary exception may be made by the County Commission with or without the prior recommendation concerning the same from the Weber County Planning Commission. Such temporary exceptions may be granted upon the County Commission determining that such a temporary exception is justified because of some unusual, emergency, act of God situation and that the health, safety, convenience, order and welfare of the inhabitants of Weber County will not be materially affected, if such temporary exception is granted.”

This ordinance sounds like it was instituted to give the county broader discretion in the rare or unusual instances that an emergency arises; thus, this week a power has been broadly defined by our commissioners to benefit a special interest. By coincidence, Diamond Peaks is the contractor that the county uses for their avalanche control on the divide, and, I think, to help in search and rescue operations.

When I called Commissioner Zogmaister (I couldn’t believe this was true), she confirmed what I had been told, and became very defensive and defended the decision stating (Craig Olsen told me the same thing when I went down to the Red Moose Lodge) that his business had several contracts that they needed to fulfill, and couldn’t wait for the Conditional Use Permit to be approved! He also told Jan that he has been doing the same thing for years—doing drops for heliskiers and had just changed places. However, apparently he didn’t’ tell her, or explain, that he had been doing it on top of Powder Mountain where the amplified sound of the helicopter didn’t reverberate and bounce around the entire Valley. It just so happened that while I was on the phone with Zogmaister, another helicopter came down. I opened up my window and asked her listen. Yes, she heard it, but wasn’t impressed. She told me that the Valley was a recreational community, and, basically, that’s what we were getting! I really was shocked. She then went on to accuse me of being anti-recreational, ignoring the issue at hand. Asking her more questions, she stated that it was Rob Scott’s idea about the temporary permit, which he supported. I asked her why Sean Wilkinson had told me that Wolf Creek hadn’t received a temporary permit to operate the helipad at the Red Moose Lodge. She replied that she guessed he hadn’t been told about it.

I am appalled by this decision by the Commission, and their misuse of power for the benefit of a special interest at the expense of the rest community. I am also appalled by their lack of interest in the issues surrounding helicopters being permitted to zoom back and forth across the Valley. She stated that Diamond Peaks had no other options and he would go out of business. I replied that he has plenty of other options, and even if he didn’t, the business is not above the law and should be held to the same rules and laws as everyone else.

Oh, and the commissioners also pushed the date of the Conditional Use Permit hearing forward. Usually applicants have to wait 60 days instead of a couple of weeks, according to Zogmaister.

If you are concerned with year-round access for helicopters for landing and taking off from the Valley floor, please attend the planning commission meeting Tuesday, and ask all of your friends and neighbors to attend also. Although, I believe our battle will be with the commissioners, NOT the planning commission.

Shanna Francis

UPDATE:  2/15/10 @ 10 PM

CLICK HERE to see the agenda for the Weber County Commission Meeting being held tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m.  See agenda item #7!!!  Guess what’s on the agenda?  Yep, a temporary permit for a helipad at Red Moose Lodge!  Apparently they hadn’t even met on the issue before issuing it????  They were going to vote on it after the fact?????  I’m not sure how this is working.

UPDATE: 2/15/10 @ 10 AM

The Standard Examiner weighed in on the issue as the Weber County Forum Points out this morning.  Stand by for the results of the County Commission which is taking place as we speak. 

From the article, Wolf Creek's Rob Thomas said it best, "Everything we're about up here in this valley is recreation."
We respectfully disagree Mr. Thomas.  The world in Ogden Valley does not simply revolve around Wolf Creek and your exploitation of our valley.  Our valley is about local families!


Whirly Bird said...

How about a landing zone in Powder Mountain town next to Powder Mountain CEO Greg Greer's home?

Bell Jet Ranger said...

Realistically, is there a location on the front nine of the Wolf Creek golf course that would be away from homes that would function as a LZ (landing zone)? Or has Wolf Creek built up all around the course by now?

Blitzer said...

Gee, I wonder if the Weber County Commissioners would feel the same way if the Helicopters flew right over their house all day? Whaddia' Think?

Grizelda said...

If you are surprised that our Weber County Commissioners are not looking out for your best interests, remember this is the same people that appointed a Cobabe family member to the Ogden Valley Planing Commission who turned out to be the Queen of Conflict of Interest.

Vote The Bums Out said...

If I am not mistaken, Bischoff and Zogmeister are up for reelection this November. Are we going to leave them in office or find someone who is more resident and Ogden Valley minded.


I strongly urge that everyone call Mr. Bill Hughes at the FAA, 1-801-257-5050 and register complaints about the noise and the potential safety issues involved in the Diamond Peaks heli operation. We obviously will get no help from our county commission that has but one brain among the three of them, with that one busy fending off Powder Mountain and the Utah Senate morons.

WHAT?? said...

Apparently Rob Scott and the geniuses on the Commission can't read, either! The ordinance says, in part, that they must determine "that such a temporary exception is justified because of some unusual, emergency, act of God situation and that the health, safety, convenience, order and welfare of the inhabitants of Weber County will not be materially affected, if such temporary exception is granted.”

Helicopters can land pretty much anywhere, including Ogden Hinckley Airport, and/or wherever Diamond Peaks keeps its copter at night. So where's the emergency? The act of God situation?

Just another instance of Zogmaister ignoring the realities of life here in the Ogden Valley because her mini-mind can only absorb problems on the west side of the mountains. What a dope.

cindy.maher said...

Is it legal to be refueling it on a public road?

Zipper said...

There may be a way to attack this by finding out if there has been a Federal environmental impact study for the use of the helicopters in the Valley on a regular basis. If we show it is detrimental to wildlife or human life, we should all petition the Federal Government to find out why no study was done.

We should bring the rest of Weber County on board and kick out Bischoff and Zogmaister.

Vote them OUT said...

I agree!! Time to vote out the Commissioners ... none of them are there to support the citizens - only the tax base!! GET THEM OUT!

Laura said...

Shanna, thank you for a very well documented, honest article.

The twisting of rules seems common place these days. I'm sure when Zogmaister was first voted in she had every intention of serving the public within the law. However, politics are a demanding mistress. To me, this is just another fine example for the need of term limits.

cub said...

Gee Craig O. of Diamondpeaks, I guess you don't run Powder Mountain like you thought or act like you do ... LOL
Can you say Karma!

Life in the Valley said...

How nice of Wolf Creek to hawk lots, houses, and condos at ridiculous prices and then seek and obtain a permit for helicopters to fly over them all day.

Steve Roberts is no doubt turning over in his grave.

Hot Air said...

As a full time valley resident, I would like to say that I fully support Diamond Peaks. When they flew (not buzzed) over my house yesterday, my kids got very excited to go out and watch. Just as they do in the summer when the hot air balloons fly over. It is our choice to live in a recreational valley including three ski resorts, a boating lake and hot air balloon flights just to name a few. It is unrealistic to expect not to hear recreation in progress! We are so fortunate to experience things that most people never do. Not to mention, without the revenue all these activities generate, we would not have local restaurants, stores and newspapers to enjoy!

Burst Your Bubble said...

Comparing Hot Air Balloons to a Bell Jet Ranger? That is like comparing a Rembrandt to Freeway graffiti. There is a reason homes near airports and flight paths are generally in the ghettos.

This is Eden, NOT Saigon.

Blow your hot air elsewhere!

Oh, and I too am a full timer AND NATIVE. How many years or months do you have under your belt?

Chirp said...

Sunday afternoon while in my home I overheard the chirp of a bird- the oh so familiar chirp of a bird that has flown in this valley for twenty years. A chirp that brings comfort and peace of mind to me because this bird I speak of has assisted in saving many lives throughout the years and helped many others. This bird controls monstrous avalanches every winter that would otherwise threaten the lives and wellbeing of many people. This bird is the only one in our area that can do such. This bird is of a rare species. There are only 40 heli-skiing services in the entire world. What an amazing thing it is to be able to say that two of the 40 heli-ski services are here in Utah. Our local service, Diamond Peaks is the only heli-skiing service in the world owned by a woman.
As a lifelong resident of Weber County, a fulltime resident of Ogden Valley, and a member of the Weber County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, I am proud to have Diamond Peaks around. For many years this local entity has selflessly rendered its services to assist in many searches, rescues and recoveries to our friends and loved ones in need in our community. When people get in trouble or injured in a precarious situation in the outdoors, does anybody stop and take a second to think about the members of the Search and Rescue Team who put themselves in harm’s way to help those in need? In the winter when people people are caught in avalanches and the avalanche danger is too high for the members Search and Rescue Team themselves to extricate the buried victim- who does Search and Rescue call? Diamond Peaks Heli-ski service to perform avalanche control in the area to preserve to lives of those who save lives. Diamond Peaks is the only service in the area certified to do so. It is the only service certified to do avalanche control from the air, and everyone on board is medically trained and certified. They selflessly and most times without any sort of compensation give of their time and means to assist in these dangerous situations. The only way Diamond Peaks can be of assistance and frequently donate their services to the community in various ways is from the earnings they generate from ski tours. What a shame it is to treat Diamond Peaks with such disrespect.

Chip Douglas said...


No one is disrespecting Diamond Peaks. They just don't want the continual flights and associated noise and potential safety concerns over their homes.

As an earlier post said, have them fly out of Greg Greer's backyard or from a remote location at Wolf Creek.


First of all, Anonymous, read the header: Anonymous posts will be removed. Duh.

Second, if you think Diamond Peaks does all that wonderful work for Rocky Mountain Power and others for nothing, I have a bridge to sell you.

Third, it used to be heartwarming to hear the OCCASIONAL thump-thump-thump of helicopter blades because it meant someone was being helped by LifeFlight. Now, the virtually constant thump-thump-thump of Diamond Peaks as we all heard yesterday sounds to me (and no doubt to Diamond Peaks) more like
cha ching-cha ching-cha ching!

Fourth, keep up the commercial/development assault on Ogden Valley with the help of pinhead commissioners like Zogmaister, and the goose that lays the golden tax eggs will die, because it will become so cheesy up here that no one will want to come here any more.

Last, I posted the wrong phone number for FAA. Mr. Hughes is at 801-257-5050, and a Mr. Dave Rodda is at 801-257-5055. Call them both and complain about the noise and the safety hazard of Diamond Peaks operating out of the middle of Eden.

Valley said...

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Whistler said...

I would suggest to all that oppose this helicopter intrusion, write or call the FAA number listed above. They can have the final say if they get enough complaints. Also, we are going to look into any requirement for a environmental impact study for this helicopter business.

Grizelda said...

Mr. Thomas of Wolf Creek is as dumb as he looks. Why don't we put a Wal Mart up here too? It would serve the people who want a big box store. He acts like it is a god given right to fly over people's homes just so some people can make more money.

We could also put a big boat manufacturer up here too since we have the water, Why not set up a gambling casino as well? All this shows what greed is like with some people. They have no clue or respect for other's quest for a rural area with the ambiance and look of Ogden Valley. They want another Park City!

Valley said...

I like how you think, Grizelda. I really like how you think. It is time to take back OUR Valley!

Snowmonster said...

Even Summit County resident do not want this type of intrusion.

EdenLocal said...

The owners of Diamond Peaks are your friends and neighbors who have lived in Ogden Valley for over 20 years. They have raised their family here. Their children went to school with your children. They are big supporters of Ogden Valley and all of the businesses in the area.

I have lived here for over 30 years and watched our Valley transform from a rural farming community into a Tourist & Ski Resort Community. The Tourist Industry helps support our grown children so that they can find a job in the area. Most of the local businesses could not survive without the Tourist Industry in Ogden Valley. We would all have to go to Ogden to shop for groceries or to enjoy a good restaurant & many of our other needs. I know some of you don’t want visitors to the Valley and want to shut the gate after you arrived, but you all have friends or family members who have jobs or own local business that survive only because of the Tourist Industry.

Diamond Peaks Heli Ski is one of the things that make Ogden Valley unique from the other competing Ski Towns and Resort Areas. There are only two Heli Ski Companies in Utah and a handful of heli-ski companies in the United States. There are a huge number of visitors that make Ogden Valley their destination only because of Diamond Peaks and the opportunity to Heli-ski here. The influx of visitors who come here because of Diamond Peaks, helps to support the local economy and all of the businesses in the Valley. They come here and rent lodging, buy groceries, eat at restaurants, shop, rent ski equipment, and pay sales taxes.

Every business in Ogden Valley is enhanced in some way by the visitors who come here because of Diamond Peaks Heli Ski. Because of the weather and snow conditions, only about 1 out of 10 visitors that come to the Valley to heli-ski, actually get to fly with Diamond Peaks. Even if they don’t get to fly, the money they bring to the area is very appreciated by ALL of the local businesses and the entire local economic structure of Ogden Valley. We all need to support Diamond Peaks Heli Ski. They are our long time local friends and neighbors who support all of Ogden Valley’s local businesses. It would be very sad day for the area and the local economy if Diamond Peaks moved their business out of Ogden Valley!

Save the Valley said...

To do the ski scene up here does not require helicopters. There is full access to the ski areas without the need for noisy machines other than emergency and spot construction work.

I wonder why they don't bring in the big Huey's that can transport many skiers at once? That could be in our future too.

It is a question of trying to keep the Valley from being Park City Part 2. Most residents do not want that up here and they should be given some consideration. Why don't we have a Valley wide referendum on the question? No helicopters for commercial use if the residents say no. That is the democratic way.

Waaaambulance said...

oh no the Waaaambulance is coming I can hear it...
I would really like to know how long all you people B*tching have lived in this valley, Ill bet most of you havent lived here more than 10-15 years, if that is true, then you have NO right to complain about anything, you move to a quiet mountain comunity with your park city and California mentality, then complain about everything, Do you realize your the ones that brought progress, development, helicopters and all that here with you when you moved here, its not just the helicopter incident, there was an article in the valley paper last summer from a valley newb complaining about the smell of the cattle by their house, I was blown away by that article, thats what this valley was and a little of it still is, now its moving more toward the visitor, the tourist, and the recreational user, its something you are all going to have to get used to, there is nothing you can do about it, you brought it on when you moved here and built your million dollar homes, maybe all of you who are complaining about everything should do us all a favor and MOVE! and to everyone ripping on Rob Thomas, you have obviously never met the man....

Pretzel said...

Save the Valley has a good idea. Let's have a vote by Valley residents on the commercial use of helicopters in the Valley for skiers. It would be a good way to let everyone speak their piece.

Angel with an open mind said...

Are some of you people for real?! Diamond Peaks has flown a total of two days this whole year. I am sure that your TV sets have been louder and caused more noise than two days of flying.

As for "I'm a Believer", it is rumored that you cause problems and static like this everywhere you have lived.

Wouldn't it be better if all you "concerned citizens" put all this energy of yours into helping the poor people and volunteers of Haiti and our service people who are fighting for more worthy causes? Or do you prefer to keep knocking the little guy down from the comfort of your computer?!

Leave Diamond Peaks alone. There operation is a winter sport when your windows are closed. But then there are all those nasty boaters we can hear everyday from the dam that will be back when the weather gets warmer... and our windows are open! Oh what will you do then?! Demand that the lake be drained?


Ben said...

I would like to point out that I, as many of you, have lived and worked in OV my whole life. I am not bothered by the helicopter sounds. We, if you ar rational -that is, knew that this place was going to grow and was going to change.

I find that objections made on this form against Dimond Peak to be equivalent to those of an old grumpy man that is anal about everything that involves change.

The helecopter is not a threat to human life, it is not going to effect the totality of the valley. Be real! I find those who object so egotistical and un warranted in their demands.