Cache residents rallying against proposed ski resort near Richmond

A group of Cache Valley residents are fighting a proposed ski resort east of Richmond at the mouth of Cherry Creek Canyon. David Chadwick and Logan Checketts presented their plans for the 160-acre Rainey Ranch Ski Resort at the March 4, 2010, meeting of the Cache County Planning and Zoning Commission. The developers requested a conditional use permit for their property, currently zoned FR-40. The “family-friendly” resort would feature up to four lifts, a small lodge, warming hut, a tubing hill with “magic carpet,” and parking for up to 350 cars. Developers hoped to break ground next month and be ready for skiers by Thanksgiving Day. Joel Pederson, a geology professor and resident of the nearby area who is representing county and Richmond City residents against the resort, urged against quick approval. “The scope of this proposal and the potential impacts to our small community can’t just be rubber stamped for approval,” Pederson said. He outlined the citizens’ primary concerns, including water quality protection, increased traffic, access to public lands, and impacts to wildlife, roads, and water quality, in a letter signed by county residents. “Frankly we are dumbfounded about how a ski resort at this low foothill elevation, built at what must be a huge cost, could possibly be a viable and long-term business enterprise. We worry that it is likely to fail, leaving instead a long-term burden on county citizens for infrastructure, maintenance, and scarred land.” Richmond residents submitted a similar letter to the commission. The proposed resort is on private land bordered on one side by a Forest Service boundary and on two sides by winter wildlife habitat owned and managed by Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources. Richmond is located 12 miles north of Logan. Dan Miller, executive director for the Bear River Watershed Council asked commissioners to request “an in-depth economic study and a business plan that takes into account 15 to 30 lost skier days for red air day inversions and the boycott by many of the Richmond City residents.” The base of the proposed resort sits at an elevation of 5,782 feet. Richmond Mayor Mike Hall, echoed residents’ concerns, “I have received countless calls, e-mails and comments on this issue. The Richmond citizens that we have heard from are overwhelmingly against it.” Hall said the city engineer’s report on the city’s cast iron waterline, which lies under the current, unimproved road, would have to be relocated before any improvements were made to the road. Other residents questioned the cost to local taxpayers for infrastructure and emergency services. In a March 9 letter to the editor in the (Logan) Herald Journal Richmond resident Sam Schropp asked, “Who will pay for the road improvements? Who will guarantee the continued supply and quality of our water? If emergency services need improvement who will pay for it? Are we going to saddle our grandchildren with more debt?” Planning Commissioner Darrel Gibbons, in an article published in the Herald Journal on March 5, cautioned the applicants at the meeting that “this isn’t going to be a short process. They need to be forewarned that it isn’t going to be something you’d see happen within a few months.” Cache Valley currently has one ski resort, Beaver Mountain, located 27 miles east of Logan.

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