Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District asked to reconsider additional parking at trailhead
Nearly 10 spoke out against the proposal at a public meeting
September 28, 2017
The request seemed simple and it wasn't anticipated that the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District's proposal to construct additional parking at the Spring Creek Trailhead on Glenwild Drive would receive a significant amount of pushback.
But, after several residents who live near the trailhead spoke against the proposal, the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission decided not to take any action.
"After receiving all the public input and comments, the decision was made that the Recreation District would take another look at it and see what was possible,"Canice Harte, Planning Commission chair, said in an interview with The Park Record. "If they (Recreation District) want to reconfigure or resubmit the application, we left that up to them.
"This was a good example of what happens when the public weighs in on something that affects them," he added.
Bob Radke, the trails and open space manager for the Recreation District, said trailhead parking is often an issue, especially at the popular Spring Creek Trailhead. He said he has seen more than 40 cars parked there on busy weekends.
"This trailhead was built in 2001," he said before the Planning Commission on Tuesday. "At the time, it served about 10 miles of trails. Now, there is about 35 miles. Historically, it has been a very popular trailhead in the evenings and on the weekends."
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To help make parking more accessible to trial users, the Recreation District was asking permission to dedicate nine parking stalls, or six off-street and three street-side spots, at the trailhead. The off-street stalls would have been located on a Spring Creek subdivision lot and the street-side stalls in the Glenwild Drive right-of-way. Radke went before the Planning Commission to discuss the project and request a conditional-use permit.
"We are just asking to replace nine of the 20 spots that were eliminated in the area due to development and have been historically used for trail parking," Radke told the Planning Commission.
Tori Trombley, who lives near the trailhead and spoke at the meeting, said the additional parking is not needed and she raised concerns about the orientation of the off-street parking stalls, proposed about 15 feet from her property.
"I hike this trail every day with my dog and family, and there is always parking," she said. "I feel like we are already surrounded by parking at our house and this would only add to it."
Jack Fenton, who lives on Pheasant Way, told commissioners he was "pretty surprised" when he learned about the request. He said the proposal is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. He suggested trail users take advantage of other nearby parking lots.
"I know there aren't public and they are private lots," he said. "But, there is this energy to use and share parking lots and we have plenty of parking.
"These are people who are coming out here to exercise and adding a minute or two to their hikes isn't really a big deal," he added. "So we are solving a problem that no one is complaining about. The complaints you are going to get are from us, the nearby residents. We are the ones being impacted by it."
During the meeting, Planning Commissioner Bea Peck said she didn't see a need for the additional parking, adding "I don't know that this is justified."
Commissioner Chuck Klingenstein said he appreciated the passion of the people who commented on the matter and understood the Recreation District's motivation.
"Bob (Radke) you are running into what we are running into everywhere and it's called: infill," Klingenstein said. "This is an infill project and I think you are trying to find the most inexpensive solution. But, the neighborhood is just asking for a more creative solution."
Dave Thomas, civil deputy attorney, told commissioners conditional-use permit requests are "almost always a 'Yes,' if it is an allowed use." The recreation district owns the property near the trailhead where the new stalls were requested and parking is allowed.
"Usually, you can put conditions on the request, they have to be reasonable conditions, but then it's up to the applicant to decide if they want to continue on under those conditions," Thomas said. "Certainly, the idea in terms of headlights in someone's window, you would need to come up with a condition that mitigates that."
Following the commission's decision, Recreation District officials are planning on brainstorming options to mitigate some of the concerns people raised.
"We have to balance the concerns with what we are feel are some parking needs and determine whether it is worth going forward," Radke said on Thursday. "I don't know which way we will go. With our experience on these matters, we feel more parking is a good endeavor. It's just a matter of how it gets done."