Park City intends to annex Bonanza Flat, other tracts of open space
Park City officials are taking steps toward annexing more than 2,000 acres of land, nearly all of it owned by City Hall itself, a move that would bring the ground under the jurisdiction of the municipality’s laws rather than those of the outside governments.
The land is located in unincorporated areas of either Summit County or Wasatch County, meaning the laws of those counties are in effect rather than those on the books in Park City. Almost all of the land is set aside as open space.
The land includes the 1,350-acre Bonanza Flat, which is in Wasatch County south of Park City. Bonanza Flat was Park City’s largest conservation deal, as measured by acreage, and it sprawls through meadows and forests. Bonanza Flat is also perhaps Park City’s most complex tract of ground from the perspective of management since there are roads, plentiful wildlife and competing interests from recreation lovers, people who live in nearby residences, hunters and snowmobile riders.
City Hall intends to hire a firm with expertise in land planning and surveying to assist with the annexation process, an involved procedure that includes talks with the Park City Planning Commission and the Park City Council. Under that scenario, the municipal government would submit the application to City Hall for consideration with the assistance of the firm that is hired.
Proposals from firms interested in the work were due on Oct. 11. City Hall said it received one submittal. The City Council is expected to consider awarding the contract at a meeting on Tuesday.
Annexations can become highly controversial when development rights are at stake, but any moves by the municipal government would not be expected to draw the same concern since the land would remain set aside as open space. There could eventually be questions, though, regarding City Hall’s management plans for the land. The move toward annexing the lands has not appeared to draw the attention of rank-and-file Parkites.
Park City officials see benefit with the annexation of the ground that is currently under consideration. In the case of Bonanza Flat, officials say, law enforcement issues are better assigned to the Park City Police Department than they are to the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office. Officials say police officers are typically closer to the remote land than are deputies from Wasatch County, as an example.
There have been concerns about law enforcement issues like parking congestion at Bonanza Flat even as City Hall continues to craft a document known as a conservation easement that will govern the use of the acreage. In the summer of 2018, a Police Department captain expressed concern about the situation in Bonanza Flat, describing a parking and traffic logjam on Pioneer Day that year.
Heinrich Deters, who manages real estate, trails and open space for the municipal government, said the Police Department has “resources and proximity” in relation to Bonanza Flat.
An annexation of Bonanza Flat, as well as the other lands, would place the Police Department as the law enforcement agency that would respond to reports of hunting. City Hall prohibits hunting on Bonanza Flat and currently relies on the Sheriff’s Office in Wasatch County to enforce the prohibition. If the land is brought into the Park City limits, the Police Department would primarily enforce the no-hunting rules rather than the authorities in Wasatch County.
There has long been concern about the dangers of hunting in open space that is also heavily used by recreation lovers, as is the case with Bonanza Flat. There is plentiful wildlife in Bonanza Flat, making the land attractive to hunters, but the ground is also popular with hikers and bicyclists in the summer and cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the winter.
The Bonanza Flat acreage is the most prominent of the land under consideration for annexation, but the municipal government is considering bringing two other notable tracts of open space under City Hall ownership into the municipality with the same reasoning. The others are upward of 600 acres in the northern parts of Round Valley, which is located on the edge of Park Meadows and stretches outward toward Quinn’s Junction, and the approximately 344 acres known as Clark Ranch off U.S. 40 close to the Park City Heights development. Other parts of Round Valley have already been annexed into the Park City limits.
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Representatives from the American Institute of Architects came to town Thursday, held a community visioning session and dinner Friday, worked all weekend and presented a 75-page report to the community Monday.