Lawsuit against Summit County over property on S.R. 224 could be dismissed, official says
October 12, 2018
Summit County was never served with the lawsuit over the County Council's decision to rescind a permit for a hotel project at the former Colby School property on S.R. 224, an action that County Attorney Margaret Olson says could result in the litigation being dismissed.
Hoffvest LLC, the firm representing the owner of the property, filed the complaint in Summit County's 3rd District Court on May 3. The original complaint was amended on Aug. 8.
The lawsuit was in response to the Council's ruling to overturn the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission's decision to grant a conditional-use permit for a 15-room hotel. The proposal included a 5,000-square-foot restaurant and fitness studios, among other amenities.
Bruce Baird, an attorney representing Hoffvest LLC, declined to provide a comment on Thursday.
Olson said the 120-day window to serve the county lapsed. "I anticipate the court will eventually dismiss the case," she said in an email. "Hoffvest, LLC could try to refile, but the county's position is that any re-filing is untimely for the majority of the claims."
The former Colby School property was acquired in 2014, with a proposal to turn the property into a hotel presented that same year. Summit County originally approved the building as the Snowed Inn and related uses in August of 1985. The 1998 Development Code allowed for a change of use in the existing building from a hotel to a school, and it operated as a school until 2008.
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Residents in the three surrounding neighborhoods were vehemently opposed to the project from the onset, based on its size and the proposed uses. Many suspected the property would become an event center where retreats and weddings would be hosted. The former Colby School is in a rural-residential zone and is surrounded by the Park West Village, Brookside Estates and Two Creeks Ranch neighborhoods. Two appeals were filed after the planning panel decided to grant the permit for the project.
The County Council upheld the appeals, ultimately determining the project's application did not go through the appropriate process and that the proposed uses are not allowed.
The lawsuit accused the County Council of making a decision based on a "flawed process," blaming the decision of elected officials on the "NIMBY's misrepresentations." The lawsuit claimed the property owner would not have purchased the former Colby School without the opinions of the county attorney's office, which specified the rights that were attached with the property.
Joe Wrona, an attorney representing Andrew Levy, one of the residents who filed an appeal to the Planning Commission's approval, said the County Council's decision was never going to be overturned.
"The travesty in this whole situation is that the Planning Commission was so misguided in the first place as to give the ridiculous development proposal any legitimacy at all," he said. "I am certain that you will not ever see anyone make an attempt to redevelop that property into a special event center."
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