Appeal of Park City Mountain Resort’s plan to upgrade lifts being heard on Wednesday

Opponents say the project’s parking mitigation plan won’t work

Pamela Manson
The Park Record
The Marsac Building.
Park Record file photo

An appeal of the City Hall approval of a conditional use permit that allows Park City Mountain Resort to upgrade its Eagle and Silverlode Express lifts is slated for a hearing on Wednesday.

The Park City Planning Commission will consider the appeal of the staff-level approval at a meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall and virtually on Zoom.

The people who brought the appeal – Clive Bush, Angela Moschetta, Deborah Rentfrow and Mark Stemler – claim there are shortcomings in the project, including an insufficient parking mitigation plan and an incomplete analysis of the impact of the greater lift capacity.

A Planning Department staff report recommends denying the appeal.

PCMR plans to replace the existing Eagle and Eaglet lifts with a high-speed, six-person detachable lift and upgrade Silverlode Express from a six-person lift to a high-speed, eight-person detachable lift. The new Silverlode Express would be parent company Vail Resorts’ first high-speed, eight-person chair in North America.

The resort has a 1998 development agreement with City Hall that includes an approved mountain upgrade plan, sometimes known as an MUP. The agreement allowed for ski lift upgrades within the plan to be reviewed and approved or rejected administratively.

On April 25, at the end of a four-hour meeting, Planning Director Gretchen Milliken approved PCMR’s application for an administrative conditional use permit for the upgrades after hearing public comment and consulting with other Park City staffers.

Administrative decisions by the Park City planning director or municipal staff members on conditional use permits can be appealed to the Planning Commission. After the Planning Commission issues a decision, the applicant or any adversely affected party can file a petition for review within 30 days in 3rd District Court.

Milliken’s approval came with 19 conditions, including a requirement that PCMR use net proceeds from paid parking to reinvest in transit, transportation and parking measures to mitigate traffic problems around the resort.

Under other conditions on the list, PCMR must provide adequate residential neighborhood traffic mitigation and designate a residential liaison to meet with the city; manage a parking reservation system at the resort with an on-site attendant and a turn-away and tow policy for people without a reservation; mitigate any impact to open space or trails; and comply with the city’s noise ordinance.

The four appellants argue the planning director did not have the authority to review the administrative conditional use permit. Their appeal also says the parking requirements in the development agreement were not met.

PCMR parking overflowed at least 68 mornings during the 2021-2022 ski season and there were long lines of people waiting for buses at off-site parking at Park City High School, which is available to skiers and snowboarders only on weekends and holidays, according to the appeal. No other guaranteed or dedicated off-site solutions with connections to improved bus service getting to or from the resort are included in the parking plan, the appeal says.

“For these reasons alone, paid parking without commensurate offsite services to accommodate displaced drivers is insufficient to prove this mitigation strategy will work, or that paid parking will not cause intrusion into nearby streets and other businesses’ premises, thereby violating the LMC,” the appeal says, referring to the municipal Land Management Code.

The staff report says the 1998 agreement specifies that development of skiing and related facilities is subject to administrative review.

“The Applicant sufficiently demonstrated that implementation of a paid parking and reservation program will reduce parking demand by 11%, more than offsetting any potential increase in parking demand resulting from lift upgrades,” the report says.

It adds that one of the conditions of approval was set to continually analyze the effectiveness of the proposed parking mitigation plan and allows the planning director to impose operational changes if necessary.

The planned improvements at PCMR are part of Vail Resorts’ Epic Lift Upgrade, a $320 million investment in projects at 14 resorts, according to a PCMR blog. The upgrades will result in 12 new high-speed chairlifts, a new high-speed gondola and eight new fixed-grip chairlifts across the company, the blog says.

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