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 sparked controversy last month — filed a lawsuit against the county on Tuesday.
His complaint alleges the county failed to follow proper legal avenues when the three-member commission voted last month to permanently place the falls in a conservation easement.
Losee’s attorney, Bruce Baird, said the county also failed to get fair compensation for its land, which he says is a violation of Utah law. He added that his client hopes to overturn the commission’s December decision and allow a new vote on the issue.
“We’ll see what the new county commission wants to do after hearing all the facts instead of making this decision on an ambush basis like it was done the first time around,” Baird said.
There’s one key difference between the current county commission and the one that voted on the conservation easement in December: Tom Sakievich.
Sakievich defeated incumbent Nathan Ivie for the third commission seat in the Republican primary in July, but he was not sworn in until Monday.
Losee donated $5,000 to Sakievich’s campaign – making him the new commissioner’s third 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 supported the move — a fact that was backed up by fellow Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee, a five-hour town hall meeting and a resolution of the Provo City City Council last month.
Ivie said the commission cleared all of its proceedings with the county attorney’s office before taking action.
Since Ivie’s time on the commission ended on Monday, he has returned to full-time horse training.
“A dying horse is most dangerous at its last breath…and to me, that’s what it looks like,” he said. “It’s like someone who wanted something didn’t get what they wanted and now they’re struggling and fighting back.”
The county attorney’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit.