Park City officials want to bring nearly all of the municipal land holdings in Round Valley into the city limits, a subtle zoning move that would put the vast acreage under the regulation of City Hall laws, including a de facto prohibition on hunting.
The annexation would involve 1,368 acres in Round Valley. City Hall purchased nearly all of the land over the years in conservation deals. Officials spent millions of dollars on purchases in Round Valley as they attempted to create a buffer between the city and the fast-growing Snyderville Basin. The acreage abuts Park Meadows to the north and the east. The annexation request also includes small pieces of land under the ownership of either the Utah Department of Transportation or the Osguthorpe family.
The Park City Planning Commission on Wednesday is scheduled to begin its discussions about the annexation. at a meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. A hearing is scheduled. The annexation request has not been widely publicized.
Another 600 acres in Round Valley owned by the city are not part of the annexation request but could be annexed separately later.
Round Valley is a popular recreation area all year. There are upward of 30 miles of trails in the summer and approximately 16 miles of winter trails. Hikers and bicyclists flock to the acreage in the summer while cross-country skiers and snowshoers enjoy Round Valley in the winter.
If the land is annexed, it would be brought under the jurisdiction of Park City's laws, one of City Hall's goals. The Park City Police Department would be the law enforcement agency responsible for the land. The land is currently in unincorporated Summit County, putting the Summit County Sheriff's Office as the responsible agency.
As the landowner, City Hall now sets rules on the land, but County Courthouse laws, not municipal ones, are in effect there. A key difference is City Hall's prohibition on discharging a weapon, such as a gun or a bow and arrow, inside the municipal limits. If the land is brought into the city limits, the City Hall prohibition would be in effect. The law effectively bans hunting inside Park City.
City Hall prohibits hunting on the land already, but there has long been confusion about hunting restrictions in Round Valley nonetheless since it is located in unincorporated Summit County. Heinrich Deters, who is the trails and open space project manager at City Hall, said an annexation would reduce the confusion.
"As soon as we bring it into the city it's real clear," Deters said.
He acknowledged that problems with hunters were more prevalent in the 1990s, as City Hall was expanding its land holdings in Round Valley, than nowadays. He said, though, Round Valley is a popular place for recreation, creating the possibility of encounters between the people in Round Valley for recreation and the hunters. The Police Department occasionally receives reports of hunters in Round Valley.
There is plentiful wildlife in Round Valley, including deer, elk, moose, foxes, coyotes and mountain lions, according to the Wildlife Protection Society. An elk herd of up to 70 animals inhabits Round Valley, the not-for-profit group said.
City Hall wants most of the land to be annexed into the Park City limits under a zoning designation that only allows recreational uses. Charlie Sturgis, the executive director of the not-for-profit Mountain Trails Foundation, said it is unlikely people who use Round Valley will notice a change if the land is annexed. The organization manages the trails in Round Valley for City Hall.
The annexation request asks that a small amount of land that sits close to Richardson Flat Road be zoned for light industrial uses, Deters said, describing possibilities such as storing snow hauled out of neighborhoods in that part of the land. Deters said City Hall is not seeking any development rights as part of the annexation request.
Annexations are some of City Hall's most important planning and zoning decisions since they change the municipal borders. They are oftentimes accompanied by major development proposals when privately held land is involved. An annexation request is put before the Planning Commission for a recommendation to the City Council. The elected officials are not bound by the lower panel's decision.