SALT LAKE CITY — The attorney representing canyon owners in a lawsuit against the now-defunct Mountain Accord wants to expand the lawsuit to include all the governmental signatories of the group.
If a judge approves the request made Monday, that means entities including Salt Lake County, Summit County, Salt Lake City, Sandy, Park City, Cottonwood Heights, Utah Transit Authority and others would be named as defendants in the legal fight against Mountain Accord, with plaintiff's arguing the group violated open meetings laws.
Last year, the Cardiff Canyon Owners Association and canyon property owner Norm Henderson sued Mountain Accord — a stakeholder group for ski resorts, transportation managers and local governments planning the future of the Wasatch canyons — arguing the group was subject to Utah's open meetings laws.
This summer, a judge agreed. But since the Mountain Accord is now defunct — and has given way to the new Central Wasatch Commission — it wasn't clear who would represent the group in the ongoing lawsuit, said attorney Will Fontenot, who is representing Cardiff Canyon Owners Association and Henderson.
Fontenot said even though his clients submitted their lawsuit a year ago, Mountain Accord has yet to be held accountable. He said open records requests have been submitted for all records related to the group's behind-the-scenes activity, but aside from what has been transmitted to Central Wasatch Commission, there are still records that might be discovered through the lawsuit.
"We don't know what we don't know at this point because everything was done secretively," Fontenot said Tuesday.
The lawsuit alleges no proper notice of Mountain Accord's meetings was given, that minutes of those meetings were not appropriately kept and that the accord's executive committee adopted policies in meetings held contrary to Utah law.
The lawsuit also seeks judgments from the court requiring members of the Mountain Accord to abide by the Utah Public and Open Meetings Act and nullifying decisions made in meetings that were not in compliance with that law.
Previously, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, who was chairman of the group's executive board, asked the court to dismiss the suit in January. He argued the group involved private entities and was formed based on its own charter, so it wasn't subject to state open meeting requirements.
However, the government entity formed to execute Mountain Accord recommendations, the Central Wasatch Commission, is subject to open meetings laws.
The commission recently responded to an open records request for all Mountain Accord documents with about 200 pages of documents, but that's only what Mountain Accord has so far transmitted to the new entity, and there could be more documents found in the suit's discovery, Fontenot said.
"There needs to be transparency" in Mountain Accord's past dealings, Fontenot said. "The concern is that Mountain Accord did a lot of the dirty work for Central Wasatch Commission, and now the Central Wasatch Commission can pick up on that and take action."
Fontenot said a $1 million transportation study by Mountain Accord has yet to be made public, and it's questionable what nearly $8 million in tax dollars has accomplished since Mountain Accord was formed.3 comments on this story
However, an audit of Mountain Accord released by the Utah State Auditor's Office earlier this year found no inappropriate spending.
Nicole Martin, deputy mayor for Sandy and spokeswoman for the Central Wasatch Commission, declined to comment on the suit aside from an emailed statement Tuesday.
"We dispute the claims (of the suit) on both legal and factual grounds, but as the matter is in litigation, we will defer further comment until the court has had the opportunity to address all of the issues properly," Martin said.