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Judge temporarily halts land development at Wasatch Peaks Ranch

All permits granted to the Wasatch Peaks Ranch from Morgan County have been temporarily suspended and the resort must cease construction and sales

PETERSON, Utah — The Wasatch Peaks Ranch was court ordered on Friday to temporarily stop all construction and sales on its property.

The Wasatch Peaks Ranch is a luxury ski resort located in Morgan County, about an hour drive from Park City and 4o minutes from Salt Lake City.

The resort first opened for the 2021-22 winter season, and spans 12,700 acres and 25 miles of boundary within the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. It features a golf course by Tom Fazio, a private ski area, a mountain village, and 70 miles of exclusive trails for 750 homeowners.

Wasatch Peaks Ranch is modeled after Montana’s Yellowstone Club, which is designed for the ultra-wealthy and limits access to the public. Earlier this year, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that a membership to the resort, “designed to cater to the 1% of the 1%,” costs $500,000.

The identities of WPR’s owners remain undisclosed to protect their privacy, however, Lessing Stern, son of Deer Valley founder Edgar Stern, has been mentioned by the company as one of its owners.

The resort was built after the Morgan County Council voted to rezone the land it sits on from “forestry” and “multiple-use” to “resort special district” use in Oct. 2019.

A month later, five Morgan County residents filed a petition for the rezone to go to a referendum. The petition was rejected by the Morgan County clerk, resulting in two lawsuits and a three-year legal battle.

In Sept. 2023 a judge ruled in favor of allowing the referendum, and Wasatch Peaks Ranch quickly appealed the ruling.

A temporary restraining order granted on Dec. 1 by Second District Judge Noel Hyde has suspended all permits granted to the Wasatch Peaks Ranch from Morgan County, and bars the resort from continuing any construction or development on the property.

“Utah law recognizes the citizens’ right to pursue referenda as a fundamental constitutional right under the Utah Constitution.” Hyde stated in court documents. “The court rules in this case that the alleged violation or disregard of this fundamental right is a sufficient irreparable injury to meet this requirement for the requested temporary restraining order.”

The restraining order will be in effect for 14 days. A hearing to consider a preliminary injunction will be held today at 9:30 a.m. at the Morgan County Courthouse. If a preliminary injunction is granted, the Wasatch Peaks would be required to stop all development until the referendum appeal goes to Utah Supreme Court.

Although the resort’s business model and financial details remain undisclosed, the project has raised at least $92 million through equity investments and memberships. Progress on the property is already underway with the golf course currently under construction and three of the resort’s five planned ski lifts currently running.

Laura Modena also contributed to this story.

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