The Cache County Board of Adjustment upheld the planning commission’s approval of a conditional use permit for Cherry Peak Ski Area at the board’s meeting Thursday night.
In the five-person board, four members voted to uphold the commission’s decision while one member, Rob Smith, did not participate due to potential professional conflict.
The Cherry Peak Ski Area was granted a conditional use permit by the Cache County Planning Commission in February after months of public input and discussion. Property owner Logan Checketts plans to turn his property to the east of Richmond into a ski resort with lifts, ski runs and a lodge. The permit was approved with 18 conditions in an effort to mitigate potential impact on local wildlife and the community.
The commission’s decision was appealed by several Richmond residents being represented by Attorney Kirk Robinson. Checketts’ property is currently zoned as forest recreation, which may allow for a ski resort. However, Robinson said the commission did not use the “correct process” when deciding whether or not to grant a permit.
Two studies were done analyzing how the ski resort could impact the area, particularly the wildlife. Robinson said these studies lacked scientific references and were therefore incomplete. Chris Daines, attorney representing Checketts, held up a hard copy of one of the studies at Thursday’s meeting, flipping through four pages of scientific citations.
“I don’t get how they can claim there isn’t sufficient scientific support,” Daines said.
Board member Nolan Gunnell pointed out that property owners have certain rights, and as long as Checketts complies with the conditions stated in the permit, his development fell within local ordinances and zoning. Robinson said while all human activity in the area – such as hunters and hikers that already access the property – will impact wildlife, this doesn’t “give us a right to go up and muck it up more.”
“All property rights are circumscribed by limits,” Robinson said.
The board ultimately agreed the planning commission had come to their decision with due diligence and upheld the commission’s decision.
“This wasn’t something that was done lightly,” board member Hal Olsen said of the planning commission’s decision.
Checketts said he was pleased with the board’s decision and that the ski resort is still in the planning and engineering phases.
The appellants have 30 days to decide whether they will take the appeal to court.