City Hall's top attorney last week filed a six-page declaration in 3rd District Court detailing the municipal government's role in the approval process of major zoning or development decisions involving Park City Mountain Resort or United Park City Mines and the affiliated Talisker Land Holdings, LLC.
The declaration of City Attorney Mark Harrington, filed on Feb. 7, is the first direct involvement by City Hall in the closely watched lawsuit between PCMR and Talisker Land Holdings, LLC centered on the resort's lease of much of the ground underlying the PCMR terrain.
The declaration covers numerous topics starting with a Park City Council-approved agreement with PCMR parent Powdr Corp. for the redevelopment of the resort's base area. It describes the agreement as concentrating development at the base area in exchange for a commitment that the on-mountain acreage at PCMR would be used for skiing purposes.
"One of the principal purposes of the PCMR Development Agreement, as I understood them, was to ensure that PCMR's base facilities and the alpine terrain then located outside Park City's corporate limits would be subject to use restrictions so that the ongoing use would be that of an integrated resort village with density consolidated at the base," Harrington writes.
The declaration describes the process that led to an agreement in which United Park City Mines in 2007 annexed more than 3,000 acres of land into the Park City limits. In doing so the development rights from the land underlying PCMR's terrain were stripped in exchange for additional rights at the site where the Montage Deer Valley was eventually built.
Harrington describes the policy reasons that underpinned the decision about the 2007 annexation. One of the policies included City Hall saying "it was critical that the PCMR base facilities and the PCMR alpine terrain function as part of an integrated ski resort . . . in a manner that ensured the preservation of the alpine terrain open space in perpetuity."
The declaration, meanwhile, says that City Hall, relying on the agreement outlining the redevelopment of the resort's base area and the subsequent annexation, "made large public transit investments to ensure that those using the Resort will have access to Park City's Main Street area from anywhere within the ski terrain."
It also says City Hall in 2012 committed to budget approximately $10 million in what are described as "redevelopment funds" to a transit hub and parking garage at PCMR's base. It would be a joint project between the municipal government and the resort.
In an interview, Harrington said the PCMR side approached him for the declaration. He declined to discuss when the declaration was drafted.
He said City Hall has informally answered questions from both sides of the lawsuit over the course of the case. Harrington said City Hall maintains a neutral stance on the lawsuit. He said he does not anticipate further involvement by the municipal government in the case.
The PCMR side submitted the declaration as part of a motion asking Judge Ryan Harris to reconsider a decision in 2012 dismissing part of the resort's lawsuit.
PCMR's lead attorney, Alan Sullivan, said the PCMR side suggested Harrington cover certain topics in the declaration. The city attorney wrote the declaration, though, Sullivan said.
Sullivan said the Harrington declaration shows that Talisker Land Holdings, LLC and United Park City Mines represented that the ski terrain at PCMR would always be operated in conjunction with the base area.