May 4, 2010
I attended the Ogden Valley Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, April 27, 2010. The reason I went was to get an update on the “Conditional Use Permit” for a heliport at the Red Moose Lodge. The update was the last item on the Commission’s agenda. Before getting to the heliport item, we listened to a presentation on the Blacksmith Village development, in downtown Eden. This presentation was well prepared; information was comprehensive and very explicit. Ultimately, the Blacksmith Village was approved. There was some apprehension though from one of the Commission members. The concern was over whether to allow curbing as part of the development “as it may detract from the rural atmosphere” of the valley. Some thoughts that came to my mind were that I don’t recall any detailed presentation from the Heliport CUP applicants and there was no discussion on how the heliport operation could “detract from the rural atmosphere.”
The Heliport CUP update from the commission was basically this. There were four main issues they were to try to resolve in the previous 60 days.
· Helicopter refueling from a public road
· Impacts on wildlife
· Agreement on flight frequency
Of the four issues, they resolved the issue of refueling from a public road. They will not do this anymore. They will pull the truck into the parking lot to refuel – I guess. The wildlife issue is still pending on a response from the State Department of Natural Resources. They contacted the FAA and their response was that they had no requirements for this type of activity. My understanding is that any safety issues or requirements are the responsibility of the local government – in this case the county. That was the extent of the safety issue. As far as flight frequency there was no resolution on that issue yet pending more discussion with the CUP applicants Diamond Peaks and Wolf Creek (RLR Properties LLC/JCA Properties). They mentioned that there was some discussion on alternate flight paths and using other locations – but no apparent resolutions on these.
There wasn’t much detail given in this update. My impression was that the Commissioners really didn’t want to discuss it too much and that it would somehow disappear through some sort of economic attrition process. Public comment on this issue was not allowed. One commissioner said that maybe a better option for them would be to use the Cache county side for their heliport. I rest my case.
The point I am making here is that I think the Commissioners need more input from the public. They realize that the current heliport has many negatives. These negatives were pointed out to them in the original meeting on this issue in addition to letters they received from the public. The one big issue that was mentioned was the future potential development of the property surrounding that area. Unfortunately, I think that has more impact than the noise, safety, or wildlife impacts. Looking at the zoning regulations – CV-2 allows for a conditional use Heliport. So given this is one of the few CV-2 zones in the area, I think this may end up being the permanent heliport and hub of additional helicopter activities, if the CUP is allowed.
I encourage you to write to the Planning Commission. I think the emphasis should be on finding a solution. This may include 1) encourage the commission to find a better alternate site ( a site that wouldn't require a flight over the entire valley) 2) Emphasize the detrimental impacts on future development in that area along with your safety, wildlife and rural detraction concerns.
I spoke with the Planning office manager Sherri Sillitoe and she said that you could send comments to her email; she will compile them and give them to the Commissioners. Her email is email@example.com. There is also a link to her email in the Planning minute’s site on the right side of the page.
Other options are to fax the comments to 801-399-8862 or mail comments to:
Weber County Planning Division
2380 Washington Blvd., Suite 240
Ogden, Utah 84401
Guest Post From Ron Tymcio