Future of Private Utah Ski Resort in Jeopardy Due to Referendum

Brent Thomas | | Industry NewsIndustry News
private ski resort
Wasatch Peaks Ranch is located in Morgan County, Utah. Credit: Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune

Wasatch Peaks Ranch (WPR) is a 12,700-acre luxury private ski resort in Utah and has distinguished itself in ways no other ski resort can compete. It originally opened in the 2021/22 season and is just 35 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City. It features 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, elevations ranging from 4,820 to 9,570 feet, private skiing, and one of the longest heli-ski runs (4,600’ vertical) in the U.S.

WPR caters to the 1% of the wealthiest 1% and provides members with approximately 400 inches of snowfall a year, guaranteed uncrowded ski slopes, access to an 18-hole golf course, 70 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails, premier fishing on the Weber River, and big-game hunting. Membership costs start at $500,000 and offer guests the ability to enjoy themselves without worrying about being bothered by outside intrusions. Other costs would be for one of the 750 personal residences on the ranch that are planned to be built and ongoing annual dues.

Now the future of the resort is in jeopardy as the voters in the county may get to decide if they want the resort to remain. 

How did this happen?

Credit: Wasatch Peak Resort

In October 2019 the county council voted 6-1 to approve rezoning the land from “forestry” and “multiple use” to a “resort special district.” This paved the way for WPR to be built. In November of the same year, five Morgan County residents filed a petition to have the rezoning go to a referendum (general vote). The county clerk rejected it on procedural grounds. This triggered the lawsuit in the 2nd District Court to get the referendum approved.

Now, after over three years of legal battle, a judge last week ruled in favor of allowing a referendum that will let Morgan County residents decide if they approve of the rezone enacted in 2019 by the Morgan County Council. The basis for the ruling was that the county council’s decision would impact a specific site and result in a new zoning classification. The judge also determined the five Morgan County residents who filed the petition in 2019 had met all deadlines and requirements on their application despite what he called “aggressive” efforts by Wasatch Peaks Ranch representatives to ensure they didn’t.

What happens next?

mountain drive
The road leading to WPR with 24 mountaintops. Credit: Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune

Wasatch Peaks Ranch filed an appeal within hours of receiving the judge’s decision. The case will soon be sent to the Utah Supreme Court which also considered the case in 2021 but remanded it back to district court.

If the referendum is eventually allowed, the Morgan County residents will have to gather about a thousand signatures to get it on the ballot. Utah’s state constitution would prohibit Wasatch Peaks Ranch from undertaking any developments that violate the original zoning designations while the referendum is in play.

If the rezone is ultimately denied, it could put the future of the resort in jeopardy.

It appears the residents of Morgan County don’t want the ultra-rich recreating in their backyard. This situation is far from over as the appeal still needs to be settled before signatures can be gathered and the rezone voted on.

On its website, WPR states: “Wasatch Peaks Ranch is a private community and club in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains where members can enjoy year-round outdoor activities that start with skiing and golf and continue as far as your imagination can take you.” That imagination could be seriously limited in the future.

Imagine having all this to yourself at a private resort. Credit: Snowbasin Resort (also located partly in Morgan County, Utah)

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One thought on “Future of Private Utah Ski Resort in Jeopardy Due to Referendum

  1. In Morgan County, we faced either Wasatch Peaks or risk having Vail buy it and turn us into another Park City. WPR has been a great, low impact neighbor so far. I know some locals who work there and like it. This is a win for Morgan County and the residents will ultimately support this.

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