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Ski world may get another Aspen

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) ” A developer who snapped up a “big, magnificent piece of raw beauty” has filed incorporation papers for a ski town he wants to name Aspen, Utah.

Dean Sellers said he planned to build a luxury ski resort covering thousands of acres on the Wasatch Range backside, near Heber City, 33 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. His development plans, in a thick book filed with Wasatch County officials, also call for a range of housing types, a golf course, hotels and retail and commercial development.

Sellers said he spent more than 30 years in Arizona brokering large residential and commercial developments and had the wherewithal to build a ski town from scratch, with backing from investors he wouldn’t identify. He said he acquired 5,700 acres from cattle ranchers, part of the 8,366 acres of land that would form the new town.

A Utah law enacted this year makes incorporation possible without county approval.

“I own most of the property by myself, and something of this magnitude is worth a fortune. That speaks for my credibility,” Sellers, 60, of Park City, said Saturday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

County officials say they know little about the developer, who submitted his plans on Thursday. His plans were first reported Saturday by the Deseret Morning News.

Sellers told the AP his land was ideal for a ski area, facing the northeast ” the best orientation for snow accumulation. It would rise from about 7,600 feet in elevation to 9,000 feet. The terrain is dotted with mature aspen trees, justifying the town name, said Sellers, who said he wasn’t concerned it could be confused for the Colorado ski town by the same name, 339 miles to the west.

Sellers said he hired some of the best ski engineers to lay out a ski area he said will resemble the nearby resorts of Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley.

“I will be requesting no state or county tax incentives or subsidy of any kind,” he said. “All of it will be private money. It will be equivalent in grandeur to Deer Valley. The long and short of it is, we will bring major tax revenues to Utah and local governments.”

As the developer and major landowner, Sellers will have the power to nominate candidates for mayor and town council when the town incorporates. Wasatch County commissioners retain authority to appoint the first town officials pending a general election, County Attorney Thomas Low said.

Utah has 13 ski areas, and “the more the merrier,” said Jessica Kunzer, spokeswoman for Ski Utah, a marketing cooperative trying to capture a larger share of destination skiers from Colorado.

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Information from: Deseret Morning News, http://www.deseretnews.com


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