Mine Shaft Brewery files lawsuit against Summit County
Company claims the county has failed to provide requested documents
September 24, 2017
A lawsuit was filed last month in the 3rd District Court against Summit County by Mine Shaft Brewery, a company based in the Snyderville Basin that has requested to build a brewery in the Park City Tech Center at Kimball Junction.
The 19-page complaint was filed in Summit County's 3rd District Court by Dallis Nordstrom Rohde, a Salt Lake attorney who represents Mine Shaft Brewery. In an interview with The Park Record Nordstrom Rohde said she was unable to comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit accuses Summit County staffers of failing to appropriately respond to requests filed under the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA). It also alleges staffers engaged in closed-door conversations about the company's project through email and phone calls.
For nearly three years, Mine Shaft Brewery has actively sought permission to build a brewery at the business park on State Road 224. Mine Shaft Brewery is interested in using the site for a brewery and restaurant with nearly 100 employees.
An application was filed in 2014 asking the county to determine what types of companies are approved under the development agreement with The Boyer Company, which is the lease holder and property owner. The county determined that the allowed uses for the site do not include breweries based on its interpretation of the requirements under the Park City Tech Center development agreement.
Last year, Mine Shaft Brewery filed a lawsuit over the use determination. The county has filed a motion for summary judgement to dismiss that lawsuit.
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The lawsuit claims the determination, to not allow breweries, was "not based on any factual evidence, but, rather, the 'belief' of certain persons."
"In addition to containing erroneous and factually insufficient findings, the (county's) denial letter was not issued until Oct. 9, 2014, well outside the 30-day deadline for a decision on an approved use determination application," documents state. "The Mine Shaft project fits not only the letter, but also the spirit of both the development agreement, the amendment, the applicable provisions of the Snyderville Basin Code and the General Plan."
The lawsuit references Park City Brewing and claims "Its operations are not located in a zone approved for such activity." In an attempt to understand how Park City Brewing was allowed to operate in a zone where it was not approved, Mine Shaft Brewery submitted a GRAMA request through the county for all documents, including text messages, phone records, emails, plans, permits and several others.
Several more GRAMA requests were submitted, the lawsuit claims, but the county did not respond or sufficiently provide the appropriate documents that were requested.
"Despite all of Mine Shaft's efforts over a period of two years to comply with all applicable laws and regulations, the County, its officers and officials have refused to honor their obligations. Mine Shaft has attempted to obtain documents from the County four different times, and in each instance the County has failed, intentionally, to meet its obligations," the lawsuit claims. "Based on the conduct of the County, Mine Shaft has a reasonable basis to believe that the County will continue to refuse to properly respond to the four GRAMA Requests at issue.
"…those documents are essential to protect Mine Shafts rights with regard to the arbitrary denial of their application for approved use," according to court documents.
Through the lawsuit, Mine Shaft Brewery is seeking a decision to require the county to pay for the company's attorney's fees and costs and to produce the documents requested under GRAMA.
Dave Thomas, chief civil deputy attorney, said in an email to <i>The Park Record</i> that the GRAMA lawsuit has not been served to the county. Thomas said Mine Shaft Brewery appealed the county’s GRAMA decision to the State Records Committee, who dismissed the appeal as being untimely. He added, "Mine Shaft then filed a lawsuit on the GRAMA decision against the County instead of against the State Records Committee."
"The untimeliness of such challenges generally do not improve with age," Thomas wrote. "When the county is served, we will answer the lawsuit.
"The county’s position on both lawsuits is similar. The county has properly processed the Boyer Company’s Use Determination and the Boyer Company has no issues with that processing," he stated. "The county has provided Mine Shaft with all GRAMA documents which were requested. The county went beyond what was required by the state statute to provide all responsive documents requested by Mine Shaft. Mine Shaft's allegation that the Park City Brewery was operating in a zone not approved for the activity is false."
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that The Boyer Company filed a lawsuit against the county. Mine Shaft Brewery filed the lawsuit.