Deadlines loom at The Canyons
September 11, 2009
Crews were unable to break ground this year on a much-anticipated golf course at The Canyons.
Still, despite appeals from landowners at the resort, new deadlines for them to begin course construction will not change, according to Summit County Attorney David Brickey.
A report in July from acting Summit County Manager Brian Bellamy gave the parties until May 1 to break ground. But some major landowners at The Canyons criticized Bellamy’s decision in separate lawsuits in 3rd District Court.
"The county is not going to change its position," Brickey said Friday in response to the appeals. "As it stands right now, Brian Bellamy, acting on behalf of the county, has given his marching orders, and we’ll do what he thinks is in the county’s best interest."
The dispute dates back to the late 1990s when several landowners cooperated to form The Canyons Specially Planned Area, which envisioned them working together to build 18 holes of golf and millions of square feet of commercial and residential space at the base of the ski resort.
But landowners at the resort, including The Canyons, Wolf Mountain Resorts, IHC Health Services, Inc. and Snyderville Basin resident Stephen Osguthorpe sued Summit County in August to appeal Bellamy’s report.
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According to the claim for declaratory relief from The Canyons, Bellamy’s findings "are not a ‘land use’ or ‘legislative’ decision of the county and are therefore not entitled to any deference by this court."
"[The Canyons] is entitled to a Judgment and Order of the Court determining the rights, status, and other legal relations between [The Canyons] and the county under the development agreement and all applicable laws and regulations ," a four-page court filing from The Canyons Aug. 28 states.
In an eight-page petition for judicial review, lawyers for Wolf Mountain claim Bellamy is not "the final county decision maker as to all enforcement actions."
"The [development] agreement sets forth a ‘default mechanism’ and declares the rights and remedies of the parties thereto in the event of a default or breach," according to Wolf’s filing dated Aug. 28.
The development agreement requires "binding arbitration" if Summit County is unable to resolve issues at The Canyons by declaring landowners in default of the contract, Wolf claims.
Bellamy’s findings violate the terms of the "default mechanism" in the agreement, Wolf Mountain claims.
However, some stakeholders at The Canyons claim actions by Wolf Mountain have delayed construction of the golf course. The July decision from Summit County gave Wolf Mountain until Oct. 1 to turn over the necessary easements and drop all legal impediments to the project or risk losing valuable development approvals at the resort.
Wolf and other property owners then have until June 2013 to open the course to the public, according to Bellamy.
But attorneys for IHC Health Services, which owns land at The Canyons, claim in a 58-page court filing Aug. 28 that the findings from Bellamy require Intermountain Healthcare to convey its property for the golf course without assurance that IHC will receive what it bargained for.
Landowners had hoped through a series of tradeoffs and complex land exchanges that a golf course would help transform The Canyons into a four-season resort. But delays have cost developers millions.
Today the development agreement is unenforceable because some parties have violated the contract, including Summit County, Osguthorpe claims in his eight-page court filing Aug. 31.
"The county’s failure to pursue arbitration and make its own self as judge, jury, and sheriff is in violation of the [development agreement]," Osguthorpe states.