Morgan County gets behind development at Wasatch Peaks — againMar 06, 2023 09:51AM ● By Linda Petersen
A Morgan County map indicates the location (starred) of the proposed Wasatch Peaks Ranch public infrastructure district. Courtesy image/Morgan County
Morgan County commissioners have again expressed support for the creation of a public infrastructure district for Wasatch Peaks Ranch. The county had previously approved the creation of the district in June 2021, but Wasatch Peaks Ranch did not submit that resolution to the office of the lieutenant governor in time (required under Utah law), the ski development’s representative Aaron Wade told the commission at their Feb. 21 meeting. The commission subsequently voted in favor of a new resolution that evening.
In forming the district Wasatch Peaks had been working “to finalize some boundaries, a few things were in flux and that caused us to lapse the timing that the lieutenant governor’s office would still approve the creation of the district,” Wade said. Wasatch Peaks needed a new resolution from the county commission to “reset the clock” and get approval from the lieutenant governor, he said.
A public infrastructure district is a special service district which funds infrastructure improvements in a given area. Formation of the district is necessary because there are no other governmental entities willing to “undertake the planning, design, acquisition, construction installation, relocation, redevelopment and financing of the public improvements needed for the project,” according to a district governing document submitted to the county. The service district levies its own assessments to cover these costs.
In approving the governing document, the county authorizes the district “to provide for the planning, design, acquisition, construction, installation, relocation and redevelopment of the public improvements from the proceeds of debt to be issued by the district,” it said.
“It is intended that the district will provide a part or all of the public improvements for the use and benefit of all anticipated inhabitants and taxpayers of the district. The primary purpose of the district will be to finance the construction of these public improvements. The district is not being created to provide any ongoing operations and maintenance services,” it also said.
Some local Morgan County residents had previously fought against development in the privately-owned ski area, which covers close to 10,000 acres of mostly undeveloped land, and the formation of the district. They filed a referendum application on Nov. 6, 2019, to bring it before Morgan County voters, but the application was rejected because of some paperwork/timing issues. The referendum petition has been the subject of several lawsuits and countersuits among the petitioners, Morgan County and Wasatch Peaks. Currently the case is before Judge Noel Hyde for judgement.
In October 2019, Morgan County authorized a resort special district for the development and entered into a development agreement with Wasatch Peaks. At that meeting, 20 local residents addressed the county commission about future development of Wasatch Peaks. Most of them expressed their support for the development.