Colby School property owners present new proposal
May 13, 2016
Park City residents Emma Worsley and Julie McBroom have submitted a new application for the hotel project they are proposing for the Colby School property, which is located in the Snyderville Basin along the east side of State Road 224.
Tuesday, Worsley and McBroom met with the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission to discuss their new application. It represents a scaled back version of the 55-room hotel project that was originally presented to the Basin Planning Commission in December as a low-impact request. Under the previous application, the site would have included the existing property and two nearby vacant lots.
At the December meeting, the project received significant backlash from residents in nearby neighborhoods, such as ParkWest Village, who claimed the applicants had not adequately communicated with property owners throughout the process. Neighbors have since formed the ParkWest Preservation Coalition and have obtained legal representation to protest the potential impacts of the project on their neighborhood.
"We feel like they are not really communicating with us and the county is focused on some very peripheral issues rather than addressing the scope of the project," said Jess Bost, a ParkWest Village resident whose property borders the Colby School property. "The real issues are being swept to the side and no one is explaining to us why."
In late December, the Summit County legal department issued a memorandum to the applicants stating that the project could not be expanded onto the Brookside lots. The applicants withdrew their original request and submitted a new proposal on March 30.
The current proposal requests approval through the conditional-use process for 33 rooms, three cabin-style rooms, and a multi-use building comprised of a restaurant, café, lounge and studio. It will include the renovation of the existing building, in addition to the construction of an attached multi-use building, demolition of the small accessory buildings on the site and expansion of the existing parking area.
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"Once we went down that path and heard all that feedback we had to question ourselves: are we that excited about this proposal versus keeping it on the one site and still having something for the local community?" Worsley said. "We felt like we could accomplish everything we wanted to do in a smaller scale and to us that felt like the right thing to do.
"We reduced the density by about 30,000 square feet and we are still excited about how this lays out," she said. "We’ve really tried to be conscious of the neighbors and, where possible, make sure our back is to the neighbors and they are shielded from any impact."
On Tuesday, Worsley and McBroom addressed the issues that have been raised by residents concerning noise, lighting and traffic. While the applicants admitted the site could be used as a wedding venue, they said all activity would cease after 10 p.m. The applicants also said guests would be encouraged to use a shuttle service and alternative transportation.
"The neighborhood has enjoyed the fact that there has been nothing going on there for the past few years," Worsley said. "The one thing we don’t want to do is be upsetting to the neighbors. We will manage the noise. But are there going to be weddings there? We hope so. But it won’t be every day of the week and there may be some meditation workshops thrown in there too that won’t be loud at all.
She added, "But let’s talk about the benefits. We are providing an area where people can come on their bikes and bring their kids and their families. The feedback about the programs we are already offering and what we are doing is so heartfelt. These are the kinds of things we want and that could actually be good for the community as a whole."
Basin Planning Commissioners had several questions about whether the current proposal meets the criteria in the memorandum issued by the legal department in December. Chair person Bea Peck said commissioners need more information before making a decision. Another hearing will be scheduled to allow for more public input on the issue.
ParkWest Village resident Chris Miller said he isn’t against the project.
"I think it is interesting and they have done a good job on the design," he said.
However, Miller added, the applicants have not effectively communicated their intent to the entire neighborhood. Miller lives in a nearby condominium complex.
"They have only communicated with residents that are literally right up to the property," Miller said. "It just seems they could do more to communicate with the neighborhood, even though they say they have communicated well, they have only sent mailers out to five or six of the neighbors and I think they could do a better job."
Bost said the original proposal that was presented to the neighbors resembled more of a hybrid of the former school, which they liked.
"We did originally think this was cool and awesome," Bost said. "But now we are starting to get really frustrated. It’s just really big and it’s really fast and I don’t think all angles are being considered. We don’t want to make enemies out of our neighbors, but let’s try and find a better complement since it is surrounded by three neighborhoods. The scope they are presenting it at is not a great fit.
"It just seems like they want to come in and do something bigger and better and it feels like an event center under the guise of a small hotel," Bost said. "As a property owner you have the right to do what you are able to do on your property. But my challenge to the county is to look at this from all sides and dig a little deeper."
To view the Planning Department staff report about the project, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/3375.