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Cache County residents sue to block ski resort

200-acre cherry peak doesn't belong near habitats, residents claim

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, July 25 2012 9:00 p.m. MDT

LOGAN — A zoning permit for a new Cache County ski area is being challenged by neighbors who say the tiny resort doesn't belong between a designated wilderness on national forest land and a state wildlife management area.

The residents are suing Cache County in 1st District Court for approving a conditional-use permit in February for the ski area, said Dan Miller, executive director for the Bear River Watershed Council.

The Cherry Peak Ski Area would occupy 200 acres of private lands near the Richmond Wildlife Management Area and the Mount Naomi Wilderness Area inside the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

"The fact that the (planning) commission would approve this ridiculous project on land that is sandwiched right between a federally-designated wilderness and a state-owned wildlife management area that provides critical winter habitat for elk, mule deer and Columbian sharp-tailed grouse clearly shows that they failed on a colossal scale to analyze the impacts of this project," Miller told the Herald Journal of Logan.

The lawsuit was filed by one Richmond resident and four others outside the city. Some of those property owners donated land for the wildlife management area, Miller said. The Bear River Watershed Council and Western Wildlife Conservancy are supporting the court appeal.

Planning commissioners "looked at this thing very carefully," said Chief Deputy Cache County Attorney Don Linton. "They spent an awful amount of work making sure that all property rights are afforded the deference that they should be afforded under our county land use ordinance."

The developers have to submit plans before they can obtain the zoning permit, said Josh Runhaar, Cache County's development-services director.

Those plans will detail how they develop an access road and sewer and water services, among other things, he said.

The zoning application submitted by Logan Checketts calls for a ski area three miles east of Richmond with four lifts, a terrain park, tubing hill and a 10,000-square-foot lodge.

"Right now, whether he can advance his permit while it's under review by the court doesn't matter because he's not asking to advance it. If he were, then we'd have to go and have that discussion," Runhaar said.

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