PCMR warns of ‘catastrophic’ impact of an eviction | ParkRecord.com

PCMR warns of ‘catastrophic’ impact of an eviction

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Park City Mountain Resort's Town Lift links the slopes with lower Main Street. It is one of the lifts PCMR intends to dismantle if it is evicted from the land underlying most of the resort's terrain as a result of a lawsuit against its landlord, Talisker Land Holdings, LLC. (Luke Nielson/Park Record)

Park City Mountain Resort on Thursday requested a 3rd District Court judge postpone signing any eviction order against the resort should he grant a motion by Talisker Land Holdings, LLC seeking to remove PCMR from most of the terrain underlying the resort.

Judge Ryan Harris has already ruled in favor of the landowner in the critical parts of the case, which centers on PCMR’s lease of Talisker Land Holdings, LLC acreage. Harris earlier ruled the lease expired in 2011. He has issued a series of other rulings in favor of the Talisker Land Holdings, LLC side. The PCMR side has indicated it would appeal.

PCMR’s filing on Thursday says the resort wants the judge to use a "measured and sensible approach" to the rest of the case. It warns of widespread damage to the local economy if PCMR is evicted.

The filing seeks:

  • the postponement of the signing of an eviction order until Talisker Land Holdings, LLC’s claims for rent and damages against the PCMR side are decided
  • the postponement of a hearing about the manner of the enforcement of an eviction order until an appeal is finished
  • a stay in the execution of an eviction order if the judge signs one

    Talisker Land Holdings, LLC has said it would require PCMR to leave the disputed terrain within 60 days if the judge signs the eviction order, known legally as an order of restitution.

    "The consequences are too dramatic if the court does allow the eviction to go forward," Alan Sullivan, PCMR’s lead attorney, said in an interview.

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    The PCMR request was the latest in a series of stunning moments in the case, and it was made one week before a critical court date. Harris on Thursday is scheduled to consider the motion from the Talisker Land Holdings, LLC side asking that PCMR be found to be unlawfully occupying the land. The landowner earlier drafted an eviction order for Harris to sign if he rules in its favor.

    In a court filing in support of its postponement request, PCMR attorneys outline what would be seen by many in the community as a nightmarish scenario of the resort not operating during the 2014-2015 ski season as it traditionally has if an eviction occurs.

    The case does not involve the lower PCMR terrain, the base area and the parking lots. PCMR has said it would operate on the lower section if it is evicted from the rest of the acreage, apparently as a terrain park with some ski slopes. It also plans to build an action sports camp to be called Woodward Park City.

    Jenni Smith, the PCMR president and general manager, signed a declaration outlining the plans. Smith’s declaration, also submitted to the court on Thursday, indicates PCMR would offer "reduced winter operations" under an eviction. The operations, according to the declaration, would involve a terrain park, a ski school and "limited skiing" on the lower terrain. Four ski lifts — First Time, Payday, Eagle and Three Kings — would be used, the declaration says. Payday, Eagle and Three Kings would be modified under the scenario, Smith says.

    Summer operations, meanwhile, would include the Alpine Slide, an alpine coaster and a zip line, according to the declaration, which also indicates mountain biking and hiking would continue on land owned by a firm tied to the PCMR side.

    The PCMR filing indicates there would be an "immediate closure of PCMR" if the judge signs the eviction order. That would harm others whose businesses rely on the resort. The closure of PCMR would "have a catastrophic impact on the local economy," the filing says. It says no one would be harmed if an eviction order is postponed.

    "The closure of PCMR — even for a single winter season — will destroy hundreds of jobs and will drive dozens of shops and restaurants out of business. The economic impact on the people of Park City, Summit County, and the State of Utah will be devastating," the filing says.

    PCMR attached a declaration by a Salt Lake City economics expert outlining a projected steep decline in business at the resort under an eviction. The PCMR side hired Gregory Adams to analyze the impact on the economy if the resort did not operate on the disputed lands.

    The Adams declaration, dated Thursday, estimates PCMR’s revenues would fall to 22.5 percent of current levels. It says PCMR estimates resort operations in the ski season would drop by 85 percent from normal while summer operations, which are centered on the land owned by the PCMR side, would be unchanged.

    "Thus, the eviction of PCMR from the resort lands would almost certainly have a very large negative impact on the economies of Park City and Summit County, leading to widespread unemployment and harm to numerous independent businesses," Adams says.

    It also says Deer Valley Resort and Canyons Resort do not have "sufficient capacity to take on all the skier days generated by PCMR."

    Should 10 percent of PCMR’s skiers from outside of Utah go to another state to ski if the resort is closed, the declaration says, the annual hit to economic activity would be approximately $40 million, resulting in the loss of about 460 jobs. If the figure rose to 25 percent, it says, approximately $100 million in economic activity would be lost annually. In that scenario, more than 1,100 jobs would be lost, according to the report.

    "In addition to businesses directly located at the PCMR base areas, many Park City and Summit County businesses depend on the success of PCMR, and the spending by out-of-state skiers who come to PCMR. Most obviously, hotels, restaurants and shops in Park City and Summit County depend heavily on the patronage of out-of-state visitors who vacation in the area," Adams says in the declaration.

    Talisker Land Holdings, LLC on Friday issued a prepared statement in response to the PCMR filing:

    "The Court has ruled that PCMR’s lease with Talisker expired on April 30, 2011. PCMR has now had use of Talisker’s land for more than three years without paying rent, all the while making enormous profits. PCMR filed seven different claims with the Court relating to the lease and each one has now been dismissed. Yesterday’s motions are nothing more than PCMR’s latest unfounded attempt at delay. PCMR has publicly admitted that they hope to convince Utah courts to ignore 100 years of their own precedents and adopt the law of other states. With all due respect, that is an abuse of our legal system and Talisker has no intention of allowing PCMR’s misguided efforts to continue. A solution cannot be reached, for next season or the long-term, until PCMR finally acknowledges that their lease has expired, ends their legal maneuvering and begins to talk about realistic solutions to this situation."