In our March GEM discussion we determined a need for everyone to be on the same page as we mount a defense against the proposed Nordic Valley expansion. There are three clusters of people now opposing the expansion plans…North Ogden folk , Ogden Valley folk, and Wasatch Front conservation folk. These notes are primarily for Ogden Valley residents, intended to provide the factual basis and references as we mount an effective defense of the Ogden Valley General Plan against Mountain Capital Partners, the investors proposing Nordic Valley expansion into the roadless National Forest.
Two somewhat related petitions have now been submitted to the Forest Service. First, in 2018, the governor asked county commissions across the state for support for downgrading roadless Forest in their counties, but our Ogden Valley Planning Commission rejected changes to the Resources Management chapter of our General Plan to support downgrading the roadless Forest resource. This was followed by our County Commission sending a letter to the governor basically saying to leave roadless Forest designation in Weber County alone. Finally, the state has now formally requested changes to roadless rules across all Utah roadless National Forest (map). The state is NOT petitioning to change the roadless status of the Forest where Nordic Valley expansion is proposed. I think we can now put this aspect on the back burner.
The focus is now on the separate Mountain Capital Partners proposal to expand Nordic Valley onto the same roadless area of the National Forest. They submitted their proposed expansion to Forest Service November 7, 2018, which started a formal review process. We have seen most of the plan before on their Expansion Plan Project website, but this is the version submitted to Forest Service and contains the legal basis they are using to justify expansion into the a roadless National Forest (appendix B, p. 119-128). Starting on page 111 are more appendices we have not seen before: A. Design Criteria…a summary of the overall scheme of the resort. D. Existing Conditions and Specifications Tables… Detail about Nordic Valley. E. Upgrade Plan Specification Tables… Detail about proposed changes, most is on forest lands. The federal rules for roadless National Forest are extensive and Mountain Capital Partners must comply with them.
Manifesto 2.0 was stimulated by the Nordic Valley expansion and is a pretty good reference document. It summarizes the expansion plan and adds a first look at impact on the Valley and what it will take to be consistent with our General Plan.
As we understand it, the next step in the Forest Service application process is a “completeness” ruling on the proposal, which we may see soon. If ruled complete, the NEPA scoping process can begin, which could be in the next few months. “Scoping” includes collecting public input and anyone wanting to be involved in the process needs to offer substantive input; doing so will put you in the loop throughout the process. The scoping phase establishes the scope of the EPA analysis required before any change of this magnitude will be decided. This is called a “NEPA” review, will cost the developer millions to conduct, and will likely take a few years to complete.
Appendix B in the proposal has a long a broad list of dimensions of impact, like scenic views, habitat & water and any can be included in the scope of the NEPA analysis. Your input relative these factors is particularly important. Thus, read appendix B as you prepare your input.
At some point we can expect Mountain Capital Partners to take their plans into the county planning process where the General Plan and existing county land use ordinances apply. However, they may wait to engage in the level of detailed planning required until they get a go-ahead from Forest Service.