Vail Resorts appeals decision on PCMR lift upgrade (updated)

The Park City Planning Commission revoked an administrative conditional-use permit in June

Park City Mountain Resort parent company Vail Resorts filed an appeal of a Park City Planning Commission decision preventing upgrades to the Silverlode Express and Eagle lifts.
Park Record file photo

Park City Mountain Resort parent company Vail Resorts said on Thursday it filed an appeal of a contentious Park City Planning Commission decision preventing upgrades to the Silverlode Express and Eagle lifts.

The appeal was filed in 3rd District Court at Silver Summit on Wednesday, according to Sara Huey, a spokesperson for PCMR. 

The filing comes nearly one month after the Planning Commission voted 3-1 in favor of four Park City residents who filed an appeal of an administrative conditional-use permit for lift improvements granted by City Hall staffers. Deirdra Walsh, the vice president and chief operating officer at PCMR, said in a statement at the time she was disappointed, confused and concerned by the decision. 

“The City Planning Director made the right decision to issue this permit, supported by her extensive, four-month-long analysis and the advice of three outside experts. There is no evidence that she made a mistake, and we believe her decision will be upheld in this next step in the process,” a prepared statement provided by Huey said.

Clayton Scrivner, Park City’s communications manager, could not comment on the appeal. He said the city had not seen the appeal by midday Thursday.

The group that filed the appeal – Clive Bush, Angela Moschetta, Deborah Rentfrow and Mark Stemler – argued the city’s Planning Department shouldn’t have accepted PCMR’s proposed upgrades because the application didn’t meet the necessary criteria for a staff-level approval. They also said the upgrades would exceed PCMR’s comfortable carrying capacity, which is an important metric used in the ski industry to determine the number of people a resort can accommodate, and claimed the parking mitigation plan – and several other conditions of the approval – were inadequate.

PCMR responded during several Planning Commission meetings, but the explanation didn’t ease concerns. The panel voted against the lift-upgrade project as the majority agreed the application didn’t meet the requirements for a staff-level approval. 

Planning Commissioners Laura Suesser and John Kenworthy explained they saw the resort’s proposal as inconsistent with a 1998 development agreement between PCMR and City Hall. The agreement outlines growth at the resort base and states lift upgrades should be reviewed administratively if six criteria are met, rather than through the typical Planning Commission process.

The Planning Commission also rejected PCMR’s requests to split the review of the two lift proposals, which effectively stopped any construction this summer.

“While we disagreed with the outcome, we respect the right of four residents to appeal the Planning Director’s decision and likewise we have the right to appeal the Planning Commission’s decision,” PCMR’s statement said. “In parallel with this appeal, we, of course, remain committed to working with the City to explore options to ensure that the resort moves forward with these important replacements of equipment that was installed many decades ago.”

The upgrade project would have replaced the current Eagle and Eaglet lifts with a high-speed, six-person detachable lift. The resort also wanted to upgrade Silverlode Express from a six-person to an eight-person, high-speed lift, which would have made it Vail Resorts’ first chair of its kind in North America.

PCMR also planned to introduce a paid-parking system for the upcoming ski season to address traffic and overcrowding, which was publicized amid the early talks with City Hall about the proposed lift work. Huey said on Thursday the resort is still crafting plans for parking operations.

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