Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Developer Sues Utah County Over Bridal Veil Falls Conservation

 A waterfall flows over a curved ridge, surrounded by green bushes and trees.
A J Butler, Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Nearly one month after the Utah County Commission voted to permanently protect Bridal Veil Falls, a private developer who hoped to build a rehab lodge there has sued the county.

The fate of Bridal Veil Falls is once again in question.

Private developer Richard Losee — whose plans to build a private rehab lodge atop the popular Utah County attraction generated controversy last month — filed a lawsuit against the county Tuesday.

His complaint alleges the county did not follow proper legal channels when the three-member commission voted last month to permanently place the falls into a conservation easement.

Losee’s attorney, Bruce Baird, said the county also failed to get fair compensation for its land, which he argues is a violation of Utah law. He added his client hopes to overturn the commission’s December decision and allow for a new vote on the issue.

“We’ll see what the new county commission wants to do after it hears all of the facts as opposed to making this decision on an ambush basis like was done the first time,” Baird said.

There is one key difference between the current county commission and the one that voted on conservation easement in December: Tom Sakievich.

Sakievich beat out incumbent Nathan Ivie for the third seat on the commission during the Republican primary in July, but he wasn’t sworn in until Monday.

Losee donated $5,000 to Sakievich’s campaign — making him the new commissioner’s third-highest cash donor — according to a candidate financial disclosure listed on the Utah County website.

Ivie led the charge to conserve the falls this winter. He said a clear and overwhelming majority of his constituents were supportive of the move — a fact that was buoyed by fellow Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee, a five-hour public meeting and a resolution from the Provo City Municipal Council last month.

Ivie said the commission cleared all of its procedures with the county attorney’s office before taking any actions.

Since Ivie’s time on the commission came to an end on Monday, he has returned to training horses full-time.

“A dying horse is the most dangerous on their last breath… and to me that’s what this feels like,” he said. “It feels like somebody who wanted something didn’t get what they wanted and now they’re thrashing out and fighting back.”

The county attorney’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit.

David is a reporter and producer working on Sent Away, an investigative podcast series from KUER, The Salt Lake Tribune and APM Reports.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.