Balancing Ogden Valley
Brandi Hammon | May 10, 2023
As a child, I was fortunate to be raised on my grandpa's horse ranch in Syracuse. It was an idyllic setting and I remember playing in the hayfields and ditches, building forts in stalls packed with hay, pheasant hunting on our own property and going out to catch horses in the pastures. Over the course of my life, I would see the entire ranch taken down to just the north and south lanes with the stalls still in place, the breeding barn, the main house and walker left intact. It feels odd, a relic that is out of place with the surrounding suburban sprawl. The remainder of the ranch was developed into what is now Snyders golf course and the accompanying communities.
Balanced land use that incorporates property rights, a strong master plan and what the land can actually bear, leads to a better overall result for everyone. Maximizing density, while appropriate in some areas, is not necessarily the best option in others. There are needs for mixed housing uses in any community and doing so can protect open spaces and wildlife corridors. Preserving what is magical about a place, the rivers, the mountain sunrise over a field, deer roaming and agricultural farms is a benefit for all.
The Ogden Valley Master Plan is well thought out, though as all documents are, it is open for interpretation. In our business, we help clients see the potential and current treasures this valley holds. Our efforts have helped remove over 200 development units in Huntsville and Eden. To several people one home is too many, a vacation rental is equivalent to a portal to hell, and no farmer should sell their ranch. Others prefer the more homes the better, there is a housing shortage after all. Bring on commercial buildings and restaurants. I believe in moderation, a place for all things with a balance of economics, natural resources, and community.
The Edgewater community was originally designed with over 250 total units and a condotel in the middle with over 40 doors. We represented the project for the bank that foreclosed on it and worked with the president to reduce the density to 57 total units plus a required commercial component. A total redesign was done by a local architect and today the project has far less impact than it planned had we not worked with an insightful bank.
Hinckley Ranch now has a conservation easement that reduced the overall possible density from 28 units down to just 3. This was due to both an altruistic seller and a buyer seeking a ranch, not a development. I still smile every time I drive by knowing that the fields and river will continue to be home forever to the deer, moose, turkeys, eagles, and owls that make a home in the Middle Fork river corridor. The extra effort for these transactions is worth it as the end result is a universal benefit.
The Basin was zoned for a condotel with over 70 units located on the corner of Snowbasin road and Highway 39, across from the Edgewater development in Huntsville. Working with the land owner and developer, a reduction of over 60 units was made. The county may pass these units along to another developer. However, our efforts reduced density.
Osprey Ranch is one of the most beautiful projects to have embraced lower-density development in harmony with the land in Eden. With 40 acres of open space along the highway as a buffer and large ranchettes, this project blends nicely with the landscape. This balance is one of good design and thoughtfulness that isn’t always seen by developers. The reduced units from this project will likely be moved to a receiving zone in the valley.
I moved to Huntsville while the ranch I was raised on was being developed. I was 12 years old and considered that single move in my life to be transformational. We rode our horses to Snowcrest at the end of the year and the whole class saddled up to the summit of Ben Lomond. That was the first year Snowcrest Jr. High opened. I had freedom in this place, I was independent and confident and often left to my own devices. It was a gift just like the ranch.
It is time to explore if today’s Ogden Valley can have that same gift; confidence and independence, to be left to our own local management. Presently, I am in support of the Ogden Valley Incorporation endeavors currently underway as a sponsor for the state to fund a feasibility study. There is no way to know if it is a financially viable option without the study. It would bring decision-making for planning and zoning home to Ogden Valley where it belongs. Regardless of the outcome of the study, we will always share with clients and the community all the ways to retain the value of the land and its magic.
This opinion is mine alone and does not represent the views of the staff or agents of Mountain Luxury. Join the conversation efforts by visiting mountainluxury.com/ogden-valley-incorporation.