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Snowbasin unveils development vision

Article Date: 
12 July, 2013 (All day)

Snowbasin officials took several Morgan County Council members, staff members and planning commissioners on a guided tour Tuesday to detail their vision of future development in Morgan County.  Snowbasin is seeking a rezone of their property from MU160 to resort special district.
With a maximum of 2,447 dwelling units planned on 8,000 acres, development on the Morgan County side of the resort outnumbers the 2,352 units planned on 3,808 acres on the Weber County side. Hotel and timeshare units are not included in the unit count and will be restricted by infrastructure, height restrictions and design parameters.
Plans include seven development areas with uses including single-family residential with lots larger than one acre, multifamily residential, condominiums, mixed-use development and golf.  Mixed use could include retail, restaurant, hotel, motel and time share uses. 
The plan could create substantial economic development opportunities for both the owner and Morgan County, said Bruce Parker, Morgan’s planning consultant for the Snowbasin project. 
Construction will be triggered by capacity and market demand, said Becky Zimmerman, Snowbasin’s consultant working with Design Workshop.  Currently, Snowbasin is “maxed out,” meaning demands for parking, skiing and eating are at or above capacity, 10 to 14 days each year.  When that figure gets to 24, the owners will push development in Morgan County.
Infrastructure
Zimmerman said current water and sewer at Snowbasin is almost at capacity.  Future development, therefore, would take a major infrastructure investment from the owners.  Waste water treatment options will increase as technology evolves, Zimmerman said.  However, the existing sewer lagoons will be eliminated and a waste water treatment facility will handle future needs, she said.  Zimmerman said the developers will try to reuse water as much as possible, especially to water golf course areas.
Independent special service districts/ taxing entities will pay for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure in the development, Parker said. This includes fire, water, police, storm water and roads.  Snowbasin may ask the Mountain Green Fire District to extend their coverage to the resort.
“The special service districts will be approved by the county and overseen by the state of Utah,” Parker said.  “It will not be a burden on the rest of the residents.” 
Although the resort straddles two counties, the most appropriate “base” for emergency services would be in Strawberry Village on the Morgan County side, Zimmerman said.  Parker said the owners may voluntarily contribute a facility for use by police and fire services.
On the Weber County line, development pods are labeled with the names Earl’s Village, The Forest and The Ranch.  In Morgan County, pod names include Strawberry Village, The Meadow’s Village, and the Meadows.
Strawberry Village
Wally Huffman, representing the Holding family who owns the land, said he predicts Strawberry Village in Morgan County to be the next big draw to Snowbasin customers.
Stawberry Village is being dubbed “a new resort center” and “a second portal to the mountain.”  It will be located partway up a slope, halfway between the base of the existing Strawberry Gondola and Trapper’s Loop Road.  Its location will minimize visual impact from the road and allow skier access from the south.
Strawberry Village is envisioned to be surrounded by a ski-in, ski-out residential neighborhood that hosts a ski school for beginners.  Zimmerman said such beginner/teaching skiing terrain is “scarce.”
The village will have parking, hotels and residential units including condominiums and townhomes.  In addition, the area has a natural amphitheater, which will be an “active place all year round,” Zimmerman said.
During the tour, the village center was marked by a large red balloon flying high in the air visible uphill from the existing sewer lagoons.
The Meadows
The Meadows downhill from the existing sewer lagoons is planned to be a residential community near two 18-hole golf courses and a club house campus complete with a boutique hotel with up to 100 rooms and a small spa.  A small village in The Meadows may provide some retail opportunities as well.
The plan highlights the developer’s desire for the Snowbasin area to be a “multi-season destination resort” with skiing in the winter and various other draws such as hiking, biking, golf and conferences in the summer. 
One portion of The Meadows spans both Morgan and Weber counties, creating what Zimmerman called an opportunity for an inter-governmental agreement to share an 18-hole golf course.
Zimmerman said The Meadows areas are part of the developer’s 50-year plan and may not come to fruition until 2048.
Master planning
“Each area has its own character,” Zimmerman said.  “The development will not be homogenous.”
An extensive system of trails will connect the development areas, connecting to existing trails, and “create a wonderful recreational experience,” Zimmerman said.
Overall, Zimmerman said the developers have “let the attributes of the land dictate where development goes and how much development goes in.”  As such, development is proposed on flatter areas with slopes less than 20 percent.   Additionally, development will be avoided on unstable lands with geological hazards.
Overall, that left only about half the land that was developable, said Huffman, who has been working with the Holding family since 1977.  On the Morgan County side, only 20 percent of the land is developable, or free of significant slopes and unstable ground. 
“We wanted to keep (developed) areas concentrated to create neighborhoods and leave significant open space,” Zimmerman said.  Open space includes skiing and golf areas.
“(Owner Earl) Holding’s vision was not to get as much money from the land as he could, but to create a master plan to celebrate the natural beauty here,” Huffman said.  “We are happy and comfortable with the plan in both counties.” 
Planning process
Huffman anticipates an end to the planning process with Morgan County in about three months and the approval process in six months.  After approval is granted, it could take 18 months to start building, Huffman said.
“Once we built it, it will create its own demand,” he said.
County staff is drafting a development agreement with Snowbasin.  Already work groups have spent a significant amount of time discussing road standards.  Snowbasin has proposed areas that include private roads that will not have to be maintained by the county.
Many are looking forward to the resort.
“Resorts don’t build garbage,” said Morgan County Councilman Austin Turner.  “It will be a huge financial benefit to Morgan.”