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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Planning Commissioners Appointed

Has The County Commission Lost Their Mind?  

Apparently being a tax paying citizen is not a requirement to serve on the planning commission.

Guest post from a concerned citizen

According to this morning's Standard-Examiner, two new members were appointed to the Ogden Valley Planning Commission.  One of them, John Howell, is a long time valley resident. The other, Tryge Simpson, stands to gain PERSONALLY if his property is sold to the people who want to open the Green Valley Academy on his property.

This conflict of interest is absolutely unacceptable and completely outrageous. We cannot take this lying down.

Blogmeister's note:

The issue of a conflict is not something new to the Ogden Valley Planning Commission.  Many will recall the lengthy saga of Jamie Lythgoe, granddaughter of former Powder Mountain owner Alvin Cobabe.  Jamie was appointed just prior to Powder Mountain applying for a massive rezone and when the issue of a conflict was brought up, Ms. Lythgoe refused to recuse herself.

As for Mr. Simpson's appointment, it is widely known that the directors of the Green Valley Academy would like to purchase the home of Tryge Simpson (rumor has it that the folks at the GVA have Mr. Simpson's property under a purchase contract).  Unfortunately, the property taxes for the said property are delinquent to the tune of $6,458.24.  An adjacent parcel is delinquent $175.31.

Wouldn't one think you would have to be in good standing with the County in order to be appointed to this position of responsibility?

What say ye humble folks of Ogden Valley about all of this?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rebuttal to the Guest Commentary regarding the UEG (Utahns for Ethical Government) in the Ogden Valley News

Ms. Warburton has decided she knows best how to deal with the unethical behavior by some of our elected legislators in Utah. Specifically, her plan is to do nothing and leave any remedial action on unethical behavior for the Utah legislature to police itself.

Ms. Warburton in her attack on the UEG petition clearly indicates that, like so many of the legislature members that oppose this petition, she does not understand the desire of most Utah citizens to reform a system that encourages payoffs from lobbyists and favors big business and developers.

Mrs. Warburton's "position paper" has been refuted point-by-point in other forums, yet she continues to spout these untruths, half-truths, and outright misreadings of the petition as if she actually believes she is still correct.

First of all Ms. Warburton is a political activist who fully supports the existing Real Estate/Developer backed legislators that have lost touch with the people of Utah. She supports those legislators and candidates that personify the no limit growth and political favors that have resulted in the degradation of our open spaces and our unique Utah lifestyle.

We must all ask ourselves, what is it that Ms. Warburton and many of our elected legislators fear regarding the Ethics Petition? If we can improve our legislative process by removing the unwanted lobbyists’influence and payoff politics, won’t that be a benefit to all?

Anyone that feels fear from ethics reform can attack a petition and try to discredit it. They are missing the point. There is a rising wave of active citizens in Utah that are fed up with “pay as you go legislation” and unethical behavior from many of our elected officials. Our Utah legislators have already demonstrated their disdain for meaningful ethics reform.

If the UEG petition is successful in gaining the necessary signatures to be on the ballot then the citizens of Utah will decide if they want strong ethics reform. It may also force the Utah legislature to pass meaningful ethics reform before the election or suffer the wrath of voters who have been painfully learning over the years that in Utah, lobbyists and money talk, and the big money wins every time.

It is no accident that the incumbent powers in Utah tried to exclude electronic petition signatures, but were recently handed a defeat in a courageous ruling by the Utah Supreme Court. Ask yourself, why would these incumbent politicians fear the electronic signatures of Utah citizens? It is obvious that they fear too much participation by the citizens in government decisions. How do you feel about that?

Larry Zini

Frank Cumberland

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Guest Post Regarding The Green Valley Academy

Comments by "Food For Thought" that we have promoted to the front page

Thank you to all that attended last night and spoke up for the Valley and it's right to maintain its current zoning.

I received feedback from more than one person that this treatment center plan is NOT going away and they (GVA) staff will continue their plight until they get the conditional use permit. I respectfully ask you to keep yourself informed and don't count on others do all of our jobs! That is, staying on top of this and continuing your involvement and proactiveness.

Just a word of caution. This is a public site. Keep your comments informed, articulate and refrain from making the citizens of the Valley appear ignorant by posting outlandish comments!

And finially, my hats are off to the people who have sincerely put their hearts, efforts, time and money into the cause to STOP the change of zoning. It can't be easy, especially when they attend religious services and community activities with some folks who are on the side of the zoning change. This is just what I am seeing and I thank them for standing up for what they believe is right for their family AND their Valley, even if it causes disturbance in their relationships.

Perhaps there might be some kind of a group started (like a steering committee) that would be willing to assist these GVA folks in obtaining a spot somewhere in the County (and perhaps the Valley?) that could be used for a treatment center. I know I would be willing to give my time and energy to this cause. Just a thought, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

No Residential Treatment Facility - Yet!

Ogden Valley Planning Commission wants more time to get it right.

After a lengthy meeting tonight with some 20 or so comments from concerned citizens and neighbors of the Proposed Green Valley Academy, the planning commissioners voted to send the issue back to the planning staff.

Since there are very few zones within Ogden Valley that accept this type of facility, the Commissioners unanimously agreed to spend the time to decide upon an appropriate zone for such a facility.

It was suggested that the commercial zone would be ideal, but those present were informed that the use would not be permitted in the commercial zone either.

In the end, commissioners opted to take their time and not be rushed into a decision.

More details will follow in coming days.

One thing we wish to clarify were several comments by petitioner Balmer regarding comments he has read on our very own Ogden Valley Forum.  He went so far as to read comments that he attributed to the forum in an apparent effort to garner sympathy to his cause.

While some of the comments he mentioned certainly were posted by readers of this site, there were two that we take exception to.    They in fact were not on this forum at all, but instead listed on the petition to Stop the academy.   The petition is an entirely different, stand alone web site.  We do, however, include links to the petition from our site.

On the petition, signees 213 and 214 made threats with regards to the potential students.  We would not have allowed those comments on our site.  While our "Comments Policy" is quite loose, those posts would have been removed.  We might add that the author's zip codes were listed as 84404 and 84405 (Ogden).
On the odd chance that any of our readers may wish to post about tonight's Ogden Valley Planning Commission meeting, we're setting up this thread, for the purpose of capturing any reader commentary, before, during or after tonight's public meeting.

If anyone wishes to comment or live blog, this is the place to lodge your comments.

If you haven't already done so, be sure to sign the petition to stop the Green Valley Academy ASAP!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ogden Valley Planning Commission Meeting June 22nd

Decision on the Proposed Green Valley Academy to be made.

Another important meeting is forthcoming as the Ogden Valley Planning Commission will meet to decide the fate of the Green Valley Academy - a proposed treatment facility for the "Forrest Gump" kids of America.  Or at least the Forrest Gump's with extremely wealthy parents.

The meeting will be held:

Tuesday, June 22nd @ 5 PM
Weber County Commission Chambers
2380 Washington Blvd.
Ogden, UT

The agenda and Planning commission packet is available on the County web site.

Click here to view the agenda

To review the Planning Commissioner's packet, click here  (large file that may take a few minutes to load).

The Commissioner's packet is some 109 pages, but we will point out some pages of importance.

  • Minutes of the May 25, 2010 meeting in which the request was 'tabled' begin near the bottom of page 10
  • Exhibits related to the proposed facility begin on page 51
  • Letters from concerned residents begin on page 63
  • Don't miss the letter on page 67 from a law firm
    • In part, the letter states:Please find enclosed herewith a Legal Memorandum regarding the protections provided disabled individuals under the Fair Housing Amended Act.
  •  Page 80 - Assertions for Maintaining the Current Ordinance of FV-3 Zone in Weber County - submitted by Concerned Citizens and Neighbors of the Ogden Valley
The numbers for the petition opposing the facility are impressive and gaining ground every day.  Click below if you wish to add your name to the growing list.

Lastly, be sure to read this recent letter to the editor of the Standard by Huntsville resident Greg W. Anderson

'Sweet deal' in Ogden valley angers resident

Thursday, June 17, 2010


We just received an urgent email request and feel it is important to pass along.Even though none of the neighbors and most Ogden Valley residents do not want the Green Valley Academy to be located in Ogden Valley, there are VERY STRONG FORCES within the county who are pushing for the academy.

We understand that the Ogden Valley Planning commissioners were taken on a field trip to the Oakley School recently. Rest assured they are receiving plenty of propaganda and correspondence from the Petitioners.

Our valley seems to be under a continuous attack from outside threats and now is the time to step it up to protect our valley. Write the Planning Commissioners today and let them know your thoughts of the proposed school.

Here is the email:





Include instructions to distribute your letter to all Ogden Valley Planning Commission members.




If you prefer to deliver in person, then here is the address:

Ogden Valley Township Planning Commission Office
Attention: Sherri Sillito,
Planning department
2380 Washington Blvd.
Ogden, UT 84401

Sherri Sillito 801-399-8791

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Green Valley Academy Response to: Guest post from area resident Laurel Kirkham

Guest Post By Mike Bulloch

The following is our response to Mrs. Kirkham's letter and other comments found within this site in relation to our proposal. We appreciate and respect the manner in which Mrs. Kirkham addresses points, without misrepresenting the student population we serve.  Many of the questions she raises are valid. However, several items need further clarification, as details will provide a more thorough view of our intentions.  Also, we have chosen to comment on some statements found on this site by other writers. 

KirkhamAs a Huntsville resident, and someone who could be very affected by the proposed Green Valley Academy, I would like to comment on why the folks on this side of the valley have so many concerns about this commercial business wanting to establish in our neighborhood. First, it must be addressed that we as a whole are not against this academy or the service that it provides. Many people over here are actually employed in this field. We have social workers, therapists, teachers and doctors who live here and support this type of facility. These children do need help and support and we applaud the fact that this group of doctors are trying to make a difference. The issues involved here are really about the bad fit of this facility into the middle of a rural neighborhood here in the valley.
It must also be mentioned that this is a private, for profit school with a $9500.00 per month tuition required. Times that by 36 students and you have $342,000.00 per month, or $4.1 million dollars a year. The boys that will be attending this school will not be from Utah but will be flown in from different parts of the country. They are children of the very wealthy, including celebrities and high profile people. This is not going to benefit Ogden Valley or Weber County in any way, except for the taxes that Weber County can garner from this commercial business. Ogden Valley residents pay an inordinate amount of property tax with very little to show for it, but now we will have the privilege of paying our heavy, heavy property tax, and have our property values depreciate at the same time. Sound fair? I don't think so!

GVA Response: (1) The issues involved here are really about the bad fit of this facility into the middle of a rural neighborhood here in the valley (Kirkham).
The proposed property is on 18 acres and is surrounded (to the north, south, and west) by many open acres, not to mention the undeveloped land of the nearby Monastery. The closest homes mentioned are to the east with acreage bordering neighboring properties.  We are not a program attempting to squeeze itself into “the middle” of a high density area (like other programs which currently exist throughout Weber County). Furthermore, the academy will preserve a large portion of land from becoming sub-divided in the future, which will promote the rural atmosphere.

(2) This is not going to benefit Ogden Valley or Weber County in any way (Kirkham). Academy directors have stated publicly and in writing that they hope to employ local residents who are qualified for available positionsThe Valley has many diverse and talented people who could provide contractual support in the arts, recreation, teaching, house staff, nursing, maintenance, organic gardening, equine, I.T., etc…  A number of valley residents are currently unemployed due to state, national, and local layoffs (see Wolf Creek), or are experiencing economic hardship.  Admittedly, Green Valley will not solve these issues, but we intend to be part of the solution by promoting clean growth and fulfilling employment. By stating there will be no benefit, seems out of touch with the economic conditions many in the valley currently face.

(3) Why is it such a novelty to work in the same area where you liveWhile some are fortunate to work nearby, the majority commuteIsn’t decreasing time and money spent on gasoline, reducing the amount of traffic, or eliminating the commute on hazardous winter roads a benefit to Valley residents?

(4) The tuition costs for the Academy have been raised both here and elsewhere (on this site or during meetings where directors addressed the community).  The opinions expressed have varied from not so subtle references—to accusations of greed, to concerns about the viability of our business model. The costs associated with providing a highly individualized, therapeutic environment which is fully staffed by licensed, trained professionals, who provide ongoing 24 hour supervision and support IS costly. Associated costs provide students with high quality, individualized education, room, board, recreational therapy, and scholarships for those in need. If costs were significantly lower, the concerns voiced would be,How can you provide professional support and supervision at such ‘cheap’ rates?”  The concerns mentioned regarding the economic viability of the Academy are valid.  However, we are confident that our experience and track records will mitigate these concerns, and Green Valley will be successful.  Furthermore, the proposed costs of the Academy are on par or lower than comparable programs which offer equal opportunities and services.

Kirkham: At the recent meeting in the Huntsville library with the directors of this proposed business, there were two women here to read more

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Report of the June 9th Meeting Regarding the Proposed Residential Treatment Academy

Guest Post by Laurel Kirkham

On June 9th, a meeting was held for all Ogden Valley residents regarding the proposed Green Valley Academy.  The Library was filled to standing room only with concerned citizens who do not want this business or the zoning change that would accompany it.

For those of you folks who are unfamiliar with this proposal, a Residential Treatment Academy for troubled teen boys has asked for a zoning change and conditional use permit so that they can put this business in the home existing at 9096 E. 1300 S. (near the monastery). They would also like to build a 5800 square foot dormitory for housing the students.

This area is zoned FV3, which does allow for a school. The concern, this is a private for profit school that would be treating boys with psychological and social problems. These boys would be brought in from other parts of the country at a cost of $9500.00 per month. This area is a beautiful, rural neighborhood with surrounding homes nearby. This is not a place for a business site.

Concerns of the citizens are many, including, lack of infrastructure to support such a facility ( everyone here is on a well and septic tank), traffic, lights, property depreciation, pollution of the aquifer, safety, etc.

The nearest business from the proposed site is 6 miles away, making this a bad fit for the area. If the FV3 zoning is changed, this type of business could establish anywhere in the valley where it is zoned FV3. This affects nearly 1/3 of the valley, and residents should be very concerned.

On June 22 at 5:00 (in the Weber County building on 24th and Washington) there will be an Ogden Valley Planning Commission meeting where this will be voted on. All Ogden Valley residents should try and attend to voice concern over this proposed zoning change. This is not beneficial to the valley, or in line with the Ogden Valley Master plan, but without support, it could be passed and then we will have nothing to say when one of these businesses wants to go into our backyard.

Please, Ogden Valley, attend the June 22nd meeting and also sign the petition here on the Ogden Valley Forum. Let's keep the development in the valley responsible and beneficial to valley citizens.


We have included the Tax ID numbers of the subject and adjacent properties along with a link to the County web site:


Weber County Commission Meeting This Morning

While perusing the agenda for this morning's County Commission meeting, one item stands out:
9. Request for approval of a Resolution of the County Commissioners of Weber County
appointing members to the Ogden Valley Planning Commission.
Presenter: Rob Scott
 The description is vague and the meeting is soon:

Weber Center,
2380 Washington
Boulevard, Ogden, Utah,
at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, the 15 th day of June 2010.
 We will be unable to attend, but hope one of our humble readers will fill us in on the details.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Snowbasin Development Update

Our friends at the Weber County Forum provide us with an update of Snow Basin's development plans

From the June 12 post at the Weber County Forum, we read:

As a followup to our June 4, 2010 article, wherein we reported the Snow Basin has now gone public with plans to follow Powder Mountain's lead, and to commence its own massive new development on the southern edge of Ogden Valley, one of our alert readers has transmitted to us some supplementary data which will no doubt be of great interest to those readers who are concerned about overdevelopment in and around Ogden Valley.

Take a look at the Snow Basin proposal online here (caution, gentle readers; this is a 140 MB file, and thus takes a while to load):
May 6, 2010 Snow Basin Plan
And for a quick overview, check out this graphic, which characterizes what they want to do where Trappers Loop ends in Ogden Valley:

As usual, Rudi has outdone himself once again.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ogden Valley Charity Garage Sale

Guest Post by Laurel Kirkham

This Friday and Saturday, June 18th and 19th, marks the 12th anniversary of the Ogden Valley Charity garage sale. 
This event began 11 years ago as a way to remember 8 year old Elizabeth Hillstrom, who passed away from cancer that year. A neighbor girl friend wanted to do something in Elizabeth's memory, so she had a "just for kids" garage sale that earned a couple hundred dollars that first year.  Elizabeth Hillstrom had been the recipient of the Make-A-Wish foundation, which had granted her wish for a horse.  She was given a horse named Carrots, a corral, saddle, and a years worth of feed. Sadly, Elizabeth died shortly after and the garage sale money was donated to Make-A-Wish in Elizabeth's name. 
It has grown to also include the bereavement centers at two area hospitals, which offer support to grieving families who have recently lost a newborn. ( in memory local newborns that have died).  The garage sale has become a very big event, with over 150 families donating and volunteering. Last year over $7000.00 was donated to Make-A-Wish to grant a wish for a terminally ill child and for the bereavement centers. 
Again, this year, we are asking generous valley residents to support this wonderful cause by donating good, usable items, and by coming to buy some of the fabulous things donated.  It is a great cause, and a fun way go get rid of that "stuff" you never use, and help grant the wish of an ill child.
Please drop donations off at the Hillstrom home, 9520 E. 400 S., Huntsville ( north of the monastery). 
Items can be picked up at your home by calling:
  • Dave Richardson 801-458-2737 
  • Leslie Stitt  801-745-4012 
  • Colleen Burton 801-644-1002    
Click here for more details

Saturday, June 12, 2010

13 trillion reasons to cut the deficit

It’s a number that’s so big, it’s “almost impossible to process,” said Michael Tanner. This week, the federal debt officially passed the $13 trillion mark. To make this “outlandish debt” less of an abstraction, consider that if you earned a dollar for every second, it would take you 416,000 years to pay it off. And that’s not half of it: The $13 trillion figure vastly understates the hole we’re digging for children and grand-children, since it doesn’t include $15.8 trillion in unfunded liabilities for Social Security and at least a $50 trillion shortfall for Medicare.“There is no way to tax our way out of this mess”: Just keeping up with current spending would require raising the tax rate on the rich to 88 percent and on the middle class to 63 percent. No sane person believes “the economy can survive that kind of taxation.” That means Washington has to do what Democrats and Republicans alike have been unable to do for years: Stop the runaway spending. Unless we want to follow Greece down the road to insolvency, “someone is going to have to have the courage to say “No.”

Michael Tanner
New York Post
As Quoted in The Week magazine, June 18th edition

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Meeting on the proposed Green Valley Academy

On Wednesday June 9th at 7pm, there will be a meeting
at the Huntsville Library regarding the plans to establish
a facility on residential property near the Monastery in

If you are concerned and have signed the petition regarding
this facility, you may consider attending this meeting.

Read Below a Guest Post from area resident Laurel Kirkham:

As a Huntsville resident, and someone who could be very affected by the proposed Green Valley Academy, I would like to comment on why the folks on this side of the valley have so many concerns about this commercial business wanting to establish in our neighborhood. First, it must be addressed that we as a whole are not against this academy or the service that it provides. Many people over here are actually employed in this field. We have social workers, therapists, teachers and doctors who live here and support this type of facility. These children do need help and support and we applaud the fact that this group of doctors are trying to make a difference. The issues involved here are really about the bad fit of this facility into the middle of a rural neighborhood here in the valley.
It must also be mentioned that this is a private, for profit school with a $9500.00 per month tuition required. Times that by 36 students and you have $342,000.00 per month, or $4.1 million dollars a year. The boys that will be attending this school will not be from Utah but will be flown in from different parts of the country. They are children of the very wealthy, including celebrities and high profile people. This is not going to benefit Ogden Valley or Weber County in any way, except for the taxes that Weber County can garner from this commercial business. Ogden Valley residents pay an inordinate amount of property tax with very little to show for it, but now we will have the privilege of paying our heavy, heavy property tax, and have our property values depreciate at the same time. Sound fair? I don't think so!
At the recent meeting in the Huntsville library with the directors of this proposed business, there were two women who live by the Oakley school which is being used as a comparitive to the proposed Green Valley Academy, (Oakley was started by these same directors,as was the Island View facility, and both were later sold). The Oakley residents both stated that their property values had not declined. One is an employee at the Oakley school and neither one of them have tried to sell their property or had it appraised. It would be difficult to comprehend that the average person with a family would want to buy a home near a commercial facility when there are so many other properties available.
There is great concern about the traffic this would bring. The road leading to this property is one of the most narrow, winding roads in the entire valley. It is actually a private lane with 90 degree turns where cars often go off the road in the winter. This road will not sustain an extra 20 or 30 cars coming and going daily. The students would also need to be transported to the various activies that this facility proports to provide for its residents, via bus or van, many times during the week, adding to the problem.
The parents of these boys are required to visit once a month (remember, they are from all parts of the country). Adequate parking would be required by law for this business and the mandatory lighting would take away our dark sky at night. No more stars!! A side note here, the grid on this end of the valley is ancient, and our power goes out 2 to 3 times a month, sometimes for 8 to 10 hours at a time. What will the academy do for this problem?
We are worried about the fact that we all live on wells and septic tanks here. This business would need a massive septic system and larger well to accomodate the number of students and staff. We are situated directly above the aquaphor and have a very high water table. The river runs directly behind the proposed facility, so there are concerns of pollution to the river and seepage into fields and other homes.
This business is asking for a conditional use permit that would forever change the FV3 zoning and would "open up a can of worms" for Weber County. FV3 does allow for a school or lodge, but this is a 24 hour 7 day a week facility. No one goes home at 3:00 on the bus, and no weekends or holidays off. The directors of this academy are looking at properties throughout the valley, so it could end up in your neighborhood as well. In fact, if this zoning passed, several of these facilities could open in the valley, and we would have no say in any of it.
Lastly, people are concerned about the safety and privacy of their families. Residential Treatment Facilities often have "runners" and other issues such as suicides , etc. Most of these problems are taken care of "in house" so that the public is never made aware. Oakley has a good record and so does Island View. But, it is known that issues do arise, and things do happen.
For most of us, it has been a big sacrifice to have the privilige of living in this unincorporated part of Ogden Valley. We were required by the county to purchase 3 acres of land, whether we wanted that much or not. We are taxed beyond reason, and have no services to show for it (other than snowplowing). Everytime we want to go somewhere it is at least half an hour away! Why do we do this? Because we love the peace and quiet, the views, the stars at night, no traffic and just plain wonderful country living.
As you can see, we as a group of Valley residents, are just fighting for the quality of life that we have sacrificed greatly for, and have come to love. I suspect if your quality of life was threatened, you would feel the same way. And if you live anywhere in the valley, be warned, it is coming your way.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Stop The Green Valley Academy in Ogden Valley Utah Petition Available For Signing

Huntsville residents concerned about a school for troubled teens have started a petition drive and could use your help.  The proposed school would be located in Southeast Huntsville although we hear the directors of the academy have a couple of backup locations just in case the Huntsville site doesn't pan out.  It could be coming to your neighborhood next, so pay close attention.

We have placed the petition over in the Petition Center which is located on the right sidebar.  You can also click here to sign the petition and support the cause.

Snowbasin Unveils Development Plans

2400 more units in Ogden Valley!

The Weber County Forum is on the ball with the late breaking story.  Read it before it hits the Standard Examiner's news stands Saturday morning.

Read the latest here:

Standard-Examiner: Snowbasin Suddenly Gets Back Into the Resort Development Game 

Rudi offers his expert analysis along with some savvy and cranky advice for the Ogden Valley-ites.

"Fifty years"? My ass. This new development will be in the forefront immediately.

If Ogden Valley residents thought they had a tough time with Western America Holding (WAH), wait until they get a load of the heavyweight Sinclair Oil, while it jockeys for position to overdevelop its mountain to the hilt.

For those Ogden Valley residents who still desire a rural mountainesque atmosphere, we'll suggest they might consider buying land in Montana... or maybe Alaska. Even Siberia, maybe.
Sadly, with the cowardly buckling of the Weber County Commission, it's likely that the die is cast; and that the bucololic Ogden Valley of our recent memories may soon be no more.
While we are at it, we will put in a gentle plug for one of our favorite Ogden Valley Books entitled "Bargaining For Eden" by Stephen Trimble.  The book is Mr. Trimble's rendition of how Earl Holding was able to acquire the SnowBasin land in the first place with a little help from his friends.   Amazon is practically giving the book away and it is displayed in our left sidebar.

Be sure to weigh in on this riveting late breaking development news from Earl's Lodge.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Powder Mountain (aka Powderville) Update; Let's Talk Extortion!

By Ima Believer


Just my opinion, but I think what happened at the WC Commission meeting last night may have been the commission caving in to a well-orchestrated plan of extortion. I’m not a Utah lawyer; fact, I’m not even a lawyer, but I know a little about extortion, and I think we may well have seen it here. Here’s some random stuff from the net (in no particular order):
n, 2. Illegal use of one’s official position or powers to obtain property, funds, or patronage.

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
Unlawful exaction of money or property through intimidation or undue exercise of authority (emphasis added here and elsewhere)

Columbia Encyclopedia
In most states of the United States, extortion is more widely defined to include the obtaining of money or property of another by inducing his consent through wrongful use of fear….

Law Encyclopedia
The obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened…fear, or under color of official right.
Virtually all extortion statutes require that a threat must be made to the person or property of the victim. Threats to harm the victim’s friends or relatives may also be included.
Under the common law and many statutes, an intent to take money or property to which one is not lawfully entitled must exist at the time of the threat in order to establish extortion.

n, Obtaining money or property by threat to a victim’s property or loved ones, intimidation, or false claim of right….
Most states define extortion as the gaining of property or money by almost any kind of force, or threat of 1)violence, 2)property damage, 3)harm to reputation, or 4)unfavorable government action.

Utah Code Ann. 76-6-406 Theft by Extortion
(1) A person is guilty of theft if he obtains or exercise control over the property of another by extortion and with a purpose to deprive him thereof.
(2) As used in this section, extortion occurs when a person threatens to:
(b)Subject the person threatened or any other person to physical confinement or restraint;….

Utah Code Ann. 76-8-104 Threats to influence official or political action.
(1)A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if he threatens any harm to a public servant,…with a purpose of influencing his action, decision, opinion, recommendation, nomination, vote, or other exercise of discretion.
(2) As used in this section:
(a)”Harm” means any disadvantage or injury, pecuniary or otherwise, including disadvantage or injury to any other person or entity in whose welfare the public servant…is interested.

So here’s the deal: it appears that the essence of extortion is a threat to do something, even something the extortionist may otherwise have a perfect right to do, for the purpose of obtaining something the extortionist has no right to have (in this case, zoning density well beyond what’s on the property when it was bought, if the Pronaia boys or their predecessors had taken the time and trouble to look.)

In fact, in some other states, extortion can occur when that threat is made even if the extortionist has a right to the property sought and the right to take the action that is threatened! Remember, it’s the threat that’s bad. Here’s how that works. Let’s say A writes B a bad check. B has an obvious right to the money, and can sue A for it, civilly. B also has the right to go to the prosecutor and file bad check charges against A. What he does NOT have the right to do is to threaten A that he will go to the prosecutor unless A pays the money. That’s extortion.

If, having gone to the prosecutor, B receives an offer from A to pay the money, or even if B receives payment and drops the criminal case, no problem. But if B says to A “I’ll only drop the charges if you agree to pay me twice what you owe me,” that’s extortion. Isn’t this fun?

Are we getting the picture, here? Now, once again, that may not be the way things work here in Utah, where the law isn’t quite as well developed as in other states, but then again, it may be. Either way, it sure leaves a bad taste when it happens, doesn’t it? And when the Pronaia boys threatened to continue their campaign to establish their town and hold the citizens captive, without a vote, unless the county commissioners gave them more than twice the density to which they were entitled, the commissioners didn’t say: “Hey, that sounds like extortion!” They said: “That sure sounds reasonable to us.”

Wonder what they’ll demand next?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Residential Treatment Facility Proposed For Huntsville

A residential treatment facility is proposed for East Huntsville near the Monastery.  As one would expect, many of the neighbors are concerned about having this type of facility in their back yard.

The Academy directors have already gone before the Ogden Valley Planning Commission for conditional use approval.  The commissioners tabled the issue during their most recent meeting but will be making a decision on the issue soon.

Click here to review the Commission report.  Pertinent data begins on page 49.
A meeting is being held Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 7:30  PM  at the Huntsville Library.

Click here to read a flyer with additional information from the Academy Directors.

Another meeting is being held for Concerned Citizens on June 9, 2010 @ 7:00 PM at the Huntsville Library to discuss the issue.  Click here for more details regarding the concerned citizen's meeting.

Predictable Outcome for Ogden Valley

Last night at the Weber County Commission public hearing on Powder Mountain it was no surprise when the Weber County Commissioners voted to accept the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) submitted by the Powder Mountain developers with a unanimous vote. The County Commissioners stated this was just a beginning, with much more work
to be done.

Despite the numerous Ogden Valley residents who spoke sincerely of their opposition to the MOU, citing the General Plan and fairness issues, it was clear in the end, that their well documented and logical points had negligible influence with the Weber County Commissioners.

To be sure, there were supporters of the MOU at the meeting and they spoke of their reasons for support. Most said they were affected homeowners who want to be free of the incorporation threat. They feel caught in a vise between the developers and Weber County. They must have forgot who put them there in the first place.

Commissioner Dearden spoke at length about the poorly written bill (HB466) that was passed in the state legislature and how these things happen. What he failed to address was the fact that when the bad bill was replaced a year later by a revised bill on incorporation, the specific section that generated this entire anti-incorporation uproar was left in place in an intentional and calculated move by the legislature.

Of interest was the presentation of Mr. Pierce of Pronaia when he said that in his investigation of the use of Transfer Development Rights (TDRs) around the country, TDRs have not been found to be successful. Not so much as a whimper was heard from the three Weber County Commissioners despite the fact that these same Commissioners have directed the GEM Committee and others to evaluate the use of TDRs for implementation in Ogden Valley, involving many hundreds if not thousands of hours of study and reports in recent years. Yet the Commissioners had no reaction when Mr. Pierce questioned the value of TDRs. This does not bode well for open land preservation in the future for Ogden Valley.

In addition, it was obvious that the Commissioners are dismissive on the issue of consistency regarding the 3 acre restriction that other developers and land owners have followed in Ogden Valley for the last twelve years.

Mr. Pierce also did his best to lay the blame for problems on the initial Powder Mountain developers (WAH) due to their approach and strategy. While he may have a point, Pronaia’s hands are tarnished as well for continuing to use the threat of incorporation to achieve their goals.

Mr. Pierce may feel this is somewhat unfair. Accordingly, The Ogden Valley Forum challenges Mr. Pierce and Pronaia to drop the incorporation with no strings attached to demonstrate good faith, and to continue this process using the offices of the Weber County Commission and the Weber County Planning Department to work out a non leveraged and equitable deal on the development at Powder Mountain.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Memorandum of Understanding Between Powder Mountain and Weber County Passes Unanimously

Late Breaking News

More will follow, but this evening Weber County Commissioners unanimously approved the Memorandum of Understanding between the Powder Mountain Developers and Weber County.  After deliberation on the issue with Commissioner Bischoff speaking in favor of the MOU, Commissioner Zogmaister made the motion to approve and Commissioner Dearden seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Thanks to Dan S. who provided live play by play blogging during the meeting in the comments section of the Weber County Forum.

UPDATE June 2, 2010 @ 4:00 AM:

The Standard offers an overview this morning in the Di Lewis article:

Residents, developers pack public hearing; lawsuits to be stayed regarding proposed Powder Mountain Town
 Be sure to watch the video on the right sidebar while you are there.  Near the end of the recording, County commission candidate Drew Johnson offers a heartfelt plea to the developers urging them to drop the plans for a town.