OGDEN (AP) — Crews have begun clearing trees and other vegetation in Malan's Basin for a resort that is proposed but not yet approved.
Chris Peterson, who purchased 1,440 acres in and around Malan's Basin earlier this year, has said he plans to build a year-round resort that would include downhill skiing. The resort could be linked to Ogden's east bench by a gondola.
Peterson has yet to receive approval for the resort, but he confirmed that crews have begun clearing vegetation.
"The clearing, in addition to creating firebreak lines for next summer, is being done primarily to make it easier for development professionals to get through the property by ski this winter," Peterson said.
Peterson did not provide additional details, but resort opponent Mike Vause said the crews are clearing trails 60 to 70 feet wide and three-quarters of a mile long.
Vause, a member of the anti-gondola group Smart Growth Ogden, said Peterson should obtain approval for the resort before cutting down trees.
"They're doing more than just knocking down brush," he said. "It's his property, and I guess he can do what he wants with it, but it just seems like it's kind of irresponsible. I'm not happy about it at all. I think it's terrible."
Peterson's property is on unincorporated Weber County, but Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey has proposed the city annex it.
Weber County Planner Kevin Hamilton said Peterson's property is zoned Forest-Recreation 40, meaning he would need a conditional-use permit to start a commercial logging operation but not to cut down trees.
"If you go on your property and trim some trees and things, I'm not aware of any ordinance that would stop you," Hamilton said.
Peterson said there has been vandalism and thefts of equipment used by the clearing crews.
"The public is permitted to make non-motorized visits to my property in Taylor's Canyon, Malan's Basin, Waterfall Canyon and Strong's Canyon on an 'at-your-own-risk' basis," he said. "I encourage visitors to follow the same rules established for visits to adjacent National Forest lands, especially to clean up after themselves and to avoid disturbing the brush-cutting crews or their equipment."
Ogden Sierra Club President Dan Schroeder called the vandalism and thefts deplorable. "If someone is angered by what's going on up there, they should get involved politically — not vandalize private property," he said.