Homeowners make move against Mountain Lab
November 8, 2006
Neighbors who live in a gated community near Jeremy Ranch hope a Third District Court judge will order a snowboard-industry mogul to cease operation of a terrain park in the tony Park City subdivision.
The Mountain Lab, which was featured last year in a snowboarding film, is situated on a 22-acre lot owned by Ken Block, a co-founder of DC Shoe Co.
"It’s like owning your own skateboard park, or a baseball owner owning his own stadium," Block told The Park Record last year. "That type of thing has never been done in snowboarding."
Inside the Mountain Lab guests play video games, spin records and tune their boards, while outside, professional riders test new equipment and film extreme movie scenes.
Jumps and rails that rival those at ski resorts exist about 200 feet from the luxury home, Block says. The facility is served by a roughly 600-foot rope tow permitted by Summit County.
Block boasts that his Mountain Lab guests have ridden motorcycles and snowmobiles on the property and have shot at skeet from the balcony.
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But the businessman, who is in his late 30s, violated the codes of the Red Hawk Wildlife Preserve Foundation when he destroyed vegetation and reshaped "the pristine natural environment" while installing the Mountain Lab, states a document filed Oct. 6 in Third District Court.
"Block also has constructed a grand-stand observation deck, a ski lift, and related improvements in violation of [covenants] that destroy the natural beauty," the case filed against Block by the homeowners association states.
By issuing a preliminary injunction in the case Judge Bruce Lubeck could order Block to cease "bulldozing, grading and development activities" at the Mountain Lab until it can be determined the facility was constructed legally, court papers state.
The case could be discussed during a court scheduling conference slated Nov. 20.
Selling prices for lots in the Red Hawk subdivision north of Kimball Junction, which average 20 acres in size, begin at $500,000, according to the documents.
Block has placed the value of the Mountain Lab at nearly $2 million.
Block violated codes in the homeowners association when he constructed the Mountain Lab without proper authorization and he continues to break the covenants with expansion of the park, court papers state, adding that terrain-park features and a rope tow violate HOA guidelines.
"Many of the [Red Hawk] lots look directly at [Block’s lot] and the visual blight created thereon by actions Block has undertaken," court documents state.
The Summit County Community Development Department has not weighed in on the dispute, Planning Director Michael Barille said, adding, "At the moment I think it’s an action from the HOA."
Block, who grew up in Southern California, has estimated that he spends about a third of his time during winters and summers in western Summit County. He says he owns about 550 acres of property in Wanship and plans to build a home in The Colony.
He insists county planners and developers at Red Hawk signed off on plans for the Mountain Lab before construction began around the time of the 2002 Winter Olympics.