Decision looms on Sun Peak hotel
December 10, 2005
Nearly 100 Sun Peak residents packed a four-hour public hearing Wednesday to oppose final approval of a 275,000-square-foot hotel in the Snyderville Basin.
The Summit County Commission is scheduled to make a decision on the development application on Dec. 21.
Opponents claim the building plans, which have been in the works for more than a decade, have doubled in size since the developer received preliminary approval for the project from the Summit County Commission in 2001.
Some residents are against the developer’s vision for a hotel and condominium — with some six-bedroom units — in the middle of a residential neighborhood roughly one mile from S.R. 224.
A master development plan drafted for Sun Peak in the 1990s contemplates a 140-unit hotel in the area. But the 326-room facility proposed by Terrace Development Partners has irked nearby homeowners.
Commissioners were presented this week with more than 500 signatures on petitions against Sun Canyon Lodge.
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According to Sun Peak resident Tim Petracca, the hotel developer, James Haft, told citizens recently that he was "shocked" by the neighborhood’s opposition to the project.
"Just the fact that he’s shocked proves he doesn’t know our community or our culture," Petracca said.
Petracca accused Haft of "ignoring facts and intent" and "manipulation of words" while pushing his proposal through the planning process.
"Hotel Park City is very small compared to what this project is," Petracca said, comparing the proposed Sun Canyon Lodge to other buildings in western Summit County.
The Grand Summit Hotel is 325,000 square feet, Tanger Outlet Center is 240,000 and all of the businesses at Redstone Towne Center comprise 220,000 square feet of commercial space, Petracca said.
Most Sun Peak residents did not expect condominiums to be sold at the hotel, he added.
"This issue was resolved before," Haft countered.
The Summit County Commission in 2001 approved a 140-unit hotel on the site just like the one debated Wednesday, the developer said.
"They could have limited this thing, the fact is, they didn’t," Haft said, adding that commissioners approved the units with no lockouts.
Residents were wrong to assume the size of the hotel would be 140,000 square feet, Haft said, adding that the Sun Peak Homeowners Association’s own design review committee approved the 275,000-square-foot preliminary plans four years ago. "Those preliminary plans show, among other things, a whole slew of two-bedroom units, and they show a 275,000-square-foot project," he said. "The (design review committee’s) letter itself was pretty simple and pretty clear. It says, ‘We approve your project.’" Recent affidavits from former County Commissioners Patrick Cone, Shauna Kerr and Eric Schifferli, who granted the project’s preliminary approval, hint that 140 bedrooms was the limit of their intent. "We shouldn’t be having to interview prior commissioners to glean their intent, we’re looking at the record," Haft said, criticizing the past commission for its sloppy approval. "A county board cannot deny our vested property rights on the basis of popular demand." The prior commission mentioned "140 keys" but no limit was placed on the building’s square footage or number of bedrooms, said Bill Mammen, an architect in Summit County. The Summit County Engineer’s Office has determined the hotel would not cause road conditions in Sun Peak to fall below an acceptable standard. But according to Sun Peak resident Brenda Lake, "this complex is not compatible with the surrounding neighborhood."
Drawings show the hotel and condominiums situated in a small canyon south of Bear Hollow Drive.
According to the Sun Peak stipulation agreement, which governed growth in the neighborhood, development rights on the hotel parcel include only 140 "rooms," opponents claim.
"The rules of the game are a 140-room hotel," said Bruce Shapiro, an attorney representing the Sun Peak homeowners. Commissioners are reviewing the plan under a past western Summit County zoning ordinance, Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer said, adding, "the new code would not allow this degree of development and the process would be a whole lot simpler."