Seven Peaks Resort owner Victor Borcherds is not taking "no" for an answer. Though the U.S. Forest Service has closed the door on his plans for a ski resort, Borcherds is continuing to try to get in a window.
Monday the Forest Service announced that the financial proposal submitted by Seven Peaks did not meet the proof-of-financing requirement. At that time, the application process was declared closed.On Friday, Borcherds and representatives of the ski resort's financial backers met with Forest Service officials to clarify financial requirements in an effort to change the decision. "We want to ask Don (Nebeker, Uinta National Forest supervisor) what will make Don happy," Borcherds said.
The Forest Service has to make sure the project is completed if it is begun, Borcherds said, and he feels the performance bonds he is obtaining are a sufficient guarantee that the project will be completed.
But Forest Service officials are not convinced.
"Our position has not changed since Monday," said Brent McBeth, branch chief of Recreation and Lands for the Uinta National Forest. Seven Peaks resort has not met the conditions of the process and "I am an adamant supporter of the process."
The first step of the process to build on Forest Service land is the application. Part of the application is proof of financing in place.
Seven Peaks resort began the application process in 1988, said McBeth. An environmental impact statement was issued in March and, on March 15, the Forest Service gave preliminary approval based on developers meeting three conditions. The first was to demonstrate financial capability to build a ski resort.
The second condition is obtaining a decision from the Utah Bureau of Air Quality that the resort would not have an negative impact on air quality. The Bureau is reviewing an air quality study now.
The third condition was that Seven Peaks would enlarge a debris basin at the mouth of Rock Canyon. Provo city has plans to cooperate with Seven Peaks to enlarge the debris basin as part of a park project.
Seven Peaks' efforts to obtain performance bonds are premature in McBeth's opinion. Before performance bonds are necessary to secure the special use permit, technical and financial capability must be demonstrated.
While it is not necessary to have cash, performance bonds do not meet that requirement, said McBeth. An example of sufficient capability would be evidence of financial backing from a reputable financial institution.
Borcherds said after the meeting that his financial backers would have the necessary documents by Jan. 18. He was not specific about who those backers are, but a senior vice precedent from First City Bancorporation of Texas attended the meeting. The bank is based in Houston.
Also at the meeting was Michael J. Bodell of Bodell Construction Co., Salt Lake City. Borcherds is negotiating with Bodell as one of the builders to provide a bond to guarantee any construction begun would be finished.
"No commitment has been made by the Forest Service to continue the project," said McBeth. He said the door was closed on the process in March when the special use permit was not issued. The window offered to Seven Peaks resort was the three conditions for the preliminary approval. But that window was closed Dec. 31.
At the very least, the environmental impact statement will have to be updated, since it was issued 10 months ago, said McBeth, and Seven Peaks may have to go back to the beginning of the application process.
Process developers must follow to gain approval for ski resort
Includes demonstrating the technical and financial capability to construct, operate and maintain for the duration of the permit term (in this case, 40 years).
2. Filing of environmental impact statement.
3. Record of decision, including appeals.
4. Obtain special use permit.
Approval of plans, design
Obtaining performance bonds to guarantee completion of the project, repairing and preventing erosion, rehabilitation of the land.