A landowner involved with plans for a 2,980-acre resort near East Canyon accused the Morgan County Planning chairman of trying to sabotage the Yaryca Master Planned Community during a Aug. 14 public hearing. Many local residents praised any efforts to put a stop to the resort proposal.
“You ran the meeting with a negative attitude that hurt us,” said Glen Burton, referring to the July 10 planning commission meeting.
Burton, a current resident of Mesquite, Nevada, had traveled 350 miles to attend the July 10 meeting in Morgan. When he arrived, he witnessed Commission Chairman Roland Haslam speaking to an unidentified person promising to stop the Yaryca development.
Haslam asked Burton to identify the person he had been speaking to, and when Burton said he didn’t know, Haslam replied, “It is he said, she said.”
Burton—who has spent over four decades in local government, nine of which he served on the Weber County Commission—said his lawyer asked him to bring the issue up during the public meeting. He said it was “not comfortable to do.”
Morgan resident Shelley Paige said if Haslam said he was going to stop it, she could see why.
“I am concerned about wildlife, recreation, traffic, noise,” Paige said. “It could force the widening of Highway 66. I am really against this.”
“If you did say it, you have my vote,” said Jessie Franich, Porterville resident. “I don’t feel this will benefit us in any way, shape or form. I have nothing good to say about this.”
Paige and Franich were not alone in her concnerns. Of the 45 people who addressed the commission Aug. 14, 33 spoke out against the development.
Investors, landowners see the positive
Yaryca landowners are hoping they can get residents and other dissenters to see the positive side of their plans. Nine of them addressed the public, which packed the public hearing to standing room only.
“The property is well positioned as a good resort area,” said Dave Kimball, a Yaryca investor. “If we try to not draw swords, we can come to a solution.”
Burton, who owns 60 acres in the community, agreed.
“This is a wonderful parcel of property,” said Burton, who has owned property in Morgan County for eight years. Burton is the group’s local government consultant who swam at Como Springs in his youth, was involved in the Envision Morgan process years ago, and plans to have a second home in Morgan County some day.
“My dad realized this was a beautiful area for people to enjoy,” said Brenda Freeman, a former Morgan resident.
“I know you don’t like outsiders coming in, but time for change is coming,” said Yancy Scott, whose family has owned property in the proposed community since the 1960s. “My kids love to come up to this area and use the facilities. People want to come up and enjoy this. We are going to do what we can to push it. Keep in mind that what we have here isn’t a bad thing if you take a look at it.”
Morgan resident Dave Corpany said there were similar plans for this property years ago, but when county officials asked for a study about how to protect the wells downstream from the proposed resort, “they backed out and didn’t develop.”
Robyn Scott, Yaryca profit sharing manager, acknowledged those previous plans from the 1970s and ‘80s but said plans were abandoned after one partner backed out.
“We don’t want to destroy this area,” said Robyn Scott, whose father owned the land since 1960. “I love that ground. We can make this a beautiful area.”
This time around, Morgan’s planner and planning staff is recommending changing the future land use map to make way for possible development of the resort, said Nate Harbertson.
“You have a heck of a planner,” Burton told the Morgan County Planning Commission. “He is a real professional. He is spot on.”
“These are people you believe in,” Halverson said. “It is in harmony with future land use plans that have taken place” such as Envision Morgan. “We are trying to improve the county. We are here to improve the community. A group of people want to bring an impact to this community for the greater good. Think about what we can bring. It is not all negative.”
“We have every intention to work with you,” James Tracy, representing the potential developer, told the Aug. 14 crowd. “The developer I represent has no intentions to ram this down your throats.”
At the least, the 52investors who have an undivided interest in the land deserve to build on their own property, said Nancy Sivulich.
“Why can’t I build on my land that I bought eight years ago?” she asked. “At least be considerate to know we have bought land in Morgan as you have bought land in Morgan.”
Majority speak out against proposal
Approximately 73 percent of those taking the pulpit during the Aug. 14 public hearing spoke out against the proposal.
Brent Porter, a member of the last Porterville Richville area plan committee, said a resort in the area was contemplated, but not to the large scope currently being proposed.
Former Morgan County Councilman Bruce Sanders asked the planning commission to send the proposal back to the Porterville Richville area plan committee.
“If you are going to change the land use map for 3,000 acres, I would see if it is agreeable to the citizens of Morgan,” he said. “This would have a huge impact on this county, a huge negative impact.”
Morgan resident Les Adams agreed.
“We, the long-term residents of Porterville, have earned the right to say ‘no,’” he said. With races, bicyclists and traffic produced by Scout trips, “Highway 66 is already a mess. We don’t want it. We don’t deserve it.”
“This doubles the size of our community,” said recent move-in Jeremy Belinski. “No one has earned the right to change Morgan County.”
Erma Carter, who has worked with the Weber River Water Users Association, said the new development could add pollution to waterways and take away water inflow.
“East Canyon River is an open sewer,” she said. “We are losing our ground water.”
Porterville resident Laura White said she is worried about the power infrastructure in the area, since it already “constantly” goes out. She is worried that her road may have to be demolished to make way for the widening of Highway 66.
Morgan resident Jenny Earl is worried that with more homes could come more children the local school district is not prepared to educate.
“That kind of growth in this county would be devastating,” she said.
“We don’t want another Wasatch Front in this area,” said Morgan resident John Paige. “It would be devastating to our roads.”
Morgan resident Matt Barr agreed, saying that 1,700 homes could bring in traffic equivalent to the Ragnar relay race that comes through the county each year.
“We would be looking at Ragnar everyday,” he said. “I don’t know of anyone in Morgan who would vote for Ragnar every day.”
Jay Rust agreed, saying “We have bike riders coming out our ears, typing up that highway all the time.” He said county crews would have a hard time plowing the roads for increased traffic in the winter.
Morgan County Historian Linda Smith said she hoped the developers plan considers the pioneer trails going across the property including the Mormon Pioneer Trail, Hastings Cutoff and Pony Express.
“The landowners are the steward of the land and our heritage,” she said. “I would like to caution before the stewards destroy the evidence of this priceless trail, to stop and take time to learn the history of the area. It is a diamond in the rough for Morgan County and the land stewards.”
She said it could become a historical site worthy of vacationers stopping to see.
Kent Wilkerson, former Morgan County planner, agreed, saying he was in favor of a “very careful community.”
“You stand on top of that parcel, and it looks like it did when those immigrants came through back then,” he said.
“The reason East Canyon and Morgan is a jewel is because we don’t have a boat load of houses here,” said Arnold Mikesell. “Take a look in the future, folks. Park City used to be a small town. Jeremy Ranch used to be flat like the property here is now.”
“Be cautious, be careful, because Morgan is beautiful,” said Adam Chamberlain, a civil engineer and two-year Porterville resident. “Once damage has been done by bulldozer or to pavement or groundwater, it is hard to reverse it.”