Developers complain that nitpicking city planners make construction here a nightmare that far outweighs the benefits of the city's comparatively low building fees.
"Nobody wants to build in Ogden," said Larry Butters, an Ogden builder who is developing the East and West Oaks subdivision. He said planners make developers revise their blueprints numerous times, costing time and money.Butters - and other developers who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation - contend planners and legal staff also use their power to promote whimsical ideas, interpret ordinances in punitive ways, and change their minds from one meeting to the next.
"They are totally out of bounds," Butters said.
His words were echoed by Tim Butler, of Great American Homes, one of the city's residential builders.
Butler's family has built in the Ogden area since the 1870s and he's been at it for more than 25 years. He said the city's tone changed about 12 years ago.
"It seemed to be more important to put business and development through the hoops than get things accomplished," he said. "They're more concerned about being in power so you have to beg than wanting to help people. Many builders and developers won't touch Ogden." Greg Montgomery, Ogden's senior planner, blames the problem on the city's outdated ordinances, written in the 1950s. He also blames architects who don't do their jobs properly.
"Sometimes we do get things incomplete," he said. "And we accept them rather than turn them back."
But the planning commission rejects incomplete plans, putting Montgomery in the middle.
"We become the easy scapegoat when the architect doesn't get the job done," he said. Ogden developer Scott Carter said he's spent thousands of dollars on additional engineering fees and still had the commission reject his plans.
"They shuts right down," he said. "And that was after Greg (Montgomery) told us what to do to get it approved." Montgomery said the planning department's problems with developers are compounded by ordinances that leave too much up to interpretation, something the city is working to change.
Carol Brockman, a member of the Ogden Planning commission, said the panel has to abide by those outdated ordinances until they are changed. But she acknowledges that the commission is a stickler.