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Ski jumps, bobsled track, hotel?

Patrick Parkinson Of the Record staff

Bobsledders and aerialists could soon rent luxury digs while training in Summit County if a developer is allowed to build a hotel near Olympic-style ski jumps in the Snyderville Basin.

A group of western Summit County residents who oppose construction of the 326-room hotel and condominium in their neighborhood are counting on the Utah Legislature to help clear the way for developers to build the luxury lodge at the Utah Olympic Park, site of several events during the 2002 Games.

Commercial development has been contemplated at UOP since the facility opened in the early 1990s. But before a debate about building a hotel at the park begins, the Summit County Commission would like to finalize a different development application from Chicago area builder Terrace Development Partners for the hotel in Sun Peak.

"Everybody thinks it’s intriguing and it has the potential of being a win for everybody," Utah Athletic Foundation President John Bennion said about the new Utah Olympic Park proposal. "The county likes it, Sun Peak homeowners like it, the developers like it and we like it."

In 2002, the $75-million surplus from the Winter Olympics was given to the UAF to own and operate venues built for the Games. Guests at a hotel at the park would purchase $200-bobsled rides, which would help the facility begin operating in the black, Bennion said.

"We need the high-end tourism at the park to help pay our bills," he said, adding that agreements from the 1990s require lawmakers and the governor approve the deal. "It doesn’t seem like there’s any real strong opposition being able to support ourselves is a whole lot more healthy than having to rely either on private donations or government funding."

Bennion says Terrace Development Partners builder James Haft is "intrigued" by the new site. Haft wouldn’t comment when reached Thursday by telephone.

"There’s conversation going between the hotel developer and the UAF," state Rep. David Ure, R-Kamas said. "We’re still working with the county commissioners and also the Utah Athletic Foundation board as to what they really want we don’t know what we have to give them as the state in order to make the deal complete."

Ure’s House Bill 418 could clarify the type of development allowed at the park but text of the legislation was not available this week.

If state officials approve the hotel, Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer says he is confident local planners will be allowed to hold the developer’s feet to the fire, adding, "they have to go through the regular planning process."

About a hundred members of the Sun Peak homeowners association packed the County Commission chambers in Coalville last December to protest Haft’s plans to build a 275,000 square-foot hotel and condominium complex roughly one mile from S.R. 224 on Bear Hollow Drive.

"Our HOA is very, very much in favor of [the UOP proposal]. That would be very much of an advantage to our neighborhood," said Sun Peak resident Jaylene Chandler. "[Haft] could do really a much better project up there."

The commission delayed a decision on the Bear Hollow Drive proposal in December after attorneys for both sides requested more time to negotiate.

"It’s been hanging out there too long," Summit County planner Don Sargent said. "The County Commissioners are anxious to get some closure to this application."

Sargent began receiving calls from Bennion around the time the decision was delayed.

"[The UOP project] still impacts Summit County with respect to traffic and other impacts," Sargent added.

Designing the hotel at the park will require a "tight squeeze," Summit County Planning Director Michael Barille said.

"There is some question as to whether there is a good spot for that project in the Olympic Park," Barille said. "Whenever you’re moving a project of that size then you’ve got to look at what the implications of the counter proposal are and make sure it really is going to be a better fit."

Bennion insists the development would comply with Basin zoning laws.

"This is not about getting state permission to go around Summit County," he said. "We’ll stay away from the ridgeline."


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