According to a multi-year study by a former Park City Fire District Battalion Chief, the Summit Park neighborhood is the highest risk area for wildfire in the District's boundaries. In response, the homeowners association is trying to do something about it.
In 2002, Summit Park completed an assessment with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, after which it received funding to have a fuel break constructed around areas of the neighborhood, creating crucial defensible space that could stop the spread of wildfire.
Mike Quinones, Wildland Fire Coordinator for the Summit Park HOA, during the process of trying to make Summit Park a Firewise community, discovered that, in the Snyderville Basin Development Code, each HOA is responsible for maintaining their fuel breaks as part of their Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs).
The problem is, HOA dues in Summit Park are not mandatory, other than in two plats. Thus, the HOA recently proposed a draft document of unified CC&Rs that would help to address the payment of dues to help the community maintain the fuel breaks, among other goals.
In response, on Dec. 8, many residents of Summit Park received anonymous flyers in their mailboxes criticizing the proposed CC&Rs and stating how they would affect residents. The gist of the document portrayed the HOA as being extremely restrictive and with the ability to foreclose on homes if dues are not paid.
"It's exaggerated and inflammatory, and that's what started the onslaught [against the HOA]," Quinones said. "People are taking this as gospel and they're not doing their homework."
On Summit Park's blog, some homeowners came out in opposition to the CC&R draft, with one user saying she moved there "because there were NO CC&Rs." HOA President Chris Quinones, however, gave The Park Record a copy of CC&Rs from 1959. She added that many Realtors had mistakenly told residents when they moved in there were no CC&Rs.
Mike Quinones said the HOA needs to get the CC&Rs updated so they can receive funding to do crucial fire prevention efforts like fuel break maintenance.
"The intent is to … try to get people that are unwilling or physically unable to put a fuel break around their house and to develop a pool of money to put defensible space around their house," Quinones said. "It's labor-intensive and expensive to get a crew to do it, but for $50 a year, if we can get [crews] to do it, who wouldn't do that?"
Another issue, Quinones said, is that, as a high-wildfire-risk community, they feel they aren't being given equal attention by the Park City Fire District. As part of PCFD's Community Wildfire Protection Plan with the Utah Department of Natural Resources, they list several goals for communities. One goal includes the construction of a new fire station in Summit Park by Spring 2014.
Summit Park has an older, existing fire station but Quinones said, "Every time we ask about this fire station up here, they say the call volume doesn't warrant a fire station, but they put that as one of their goals they need to submit to get money."
Park City Fire Chief Paul Hewitt said, "I wouldn't say a Summit Park fire station is out of the question," but added he doesn't believe one will be put there, stating that response time from the Pinebrook station is "very good." He said the District has put about $40,000 toward a chipping program for fuel mitigation as well.
Assistant Fire Chief Scott Adams said the stations for Summit Park and Quinn's Junction were part of a "wish list" and that the current Summit Park fire station is not set up to hold meetings in.
In the meantime, the Summit Park HOA will go back to the drawing board on its CC&Rs, but they encourage homeowners to become informed about why the changes are being proposed.
"We are trying to be proactive about [fire prevention] and [residents] are pushing back on us so hard," Chris Quinones said. "People don't want a restrictive HOA and we don't want that either."
The Summit Park HOA has scheduled a community input meeting for residents on Thursday, Jan. 9, at 6 p.m. at the Sheldon Richins Building, 1885 W. Ute Boulevard.