Seven Peaks' proposal to build a ski resort on Maple Mountain is dead, joining a heap of similar proposals that have flourished then perished since the 1950s.
Brent McBeth, acting supervisor for the Uinta National Forest, met with Seven Peaks owner Victor Borcherds Wednesday morning to inform him the Forest Service is officially closing the application process for the proposed resort.Borcherds and Seven Peaks executive vice president Steve Yeoman left town later Wednesday on a business trip, according to a secretary.
"They don't have any comment," the secretary said. "They knew this would be coming."
However, Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins called the decision "premature and inappropriate.
"I think it's unfortunate because Vic was still in the process of getting his finances together," Jenkins said.
Jenkins questioned McBeth's authority to close the application process, saying that decision should have been made by the regional forester.
Seven Peaks cannot appeal the decision, McBeth said.
Seven Peaks originally applied for a special use permit to build a 3,010-acre year-round resort in 1988. Company representatives estimated at the time it would cost $26.5 million to build the resort, which would feature a funicular railway, ski lifts and eventually a hotel.
In March 1990 former Forest Supervisor Don Nebeker issued a record of decision approving Seven Peaks' project proposal. Nebeker, however, gave Seven Peaks 90 days to met three conditions before signing off on the special use permit.
The conditions: have an air-quality mitigation plan approved by federal, state and local authorities; provide assurance of plans to enlarge the debris basin at the mouth of Rock Canyon; and provide assurance of financial ability to complete the project.
The last condition proved to be a major stumbling block. In July 1990 the Forest Service and Borcherds mutually agreed to void Nebeker's record of decision when Seven Peaks failed to provide evidence of financial capability to build the resort.
During the intervening year Seven Peaks and Forest Service officials met several times but "there has not been any substantial progress to meet the financial backing requirement," McBeth said.
"I believe a full year's passed now and they've had ample opportunity for those requirements to be met," McBeth said. "It is in the public interest to close the process.
"We as public agency have some important processes we've got to get on with and this one ends," McBeth said.
The Forest Service's time and resources are largely dedicated to a review of the Uinta Forest's use and programs master plan, a project that will take three years.
The closure of Seven Peaks' application does not preclude future requests for a special use permit. New requests will be "based on what's going on and the merits of the application at the time," McBeth said.
Reaction: Foes of a resort on Maple Mountain praise decision. Group seeks ban on commercial use for the area.
County residents who have opposed development of a ski resort on Maple Mountain had a predictable reaction to the Forest Service's decision to close Seven Peaks' application.
They are relieved.
"As you can imagine, the group I'm involved with fully supports the Forest Service's decision," said Jim Harris, a local environmentalist and assistant professor of biology at Utah Valley Community College.
"We think it's in the best interest of the local environment and the people of Utah Valley," he said.
The Rock Canyon Preservation Alliance, a group Harris is affiliated with, is seeking a special "solitary recreation" designation for the Maple Mountain area that would preclude commercial development. The group's efforts will continue, Harris said.
But not everyone thinks the area has heard the last of Victor Borcherds and his ski resort proposal.
"My personal opinion is that Mr. Borcherds will never say die," said Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce President Steve Densley. "I hope that he is able to put it back together. A lot of people would like to see that project completed.
"I think Victor has enough resiliency that if there is any way for it to be done, Victor Borcherds will find a way for it to be done."