Park City Planning Commission formally grants PCMR lift work appeal
This week’s action rounds out more than a month of contentious debate about the project
The Park City Planning Commission formally granted an appeal on Wednesday of an administrative conditional-use permit that would have allowed for upgrades to the Silverlode Express and Eagle lifts at Park City Mountain Resort.
The Planning Commission voted to approve the final action letter, which made the decision official, following a 3-1 vote last week. By upholding the appeal, the Planning Commission ruled the city’s planning director was not authorized to grant PCMR a permit for the proposed lift work.
This week’s vote rounds out more than a month of contentious debate about the project and subsequent appeal, which was filed by four Park City residents on May 5. The Planning Commission first reviewed the appeal brought forward by Clive Bush, Angela Moschetta, Deborah Rentfrow and Mark Stemler on June 8. The group argued the Planning Department shouldn’t have accepted PCMR’s proposed upgrades because the resort’s application didn’t meet the necessary criteria for a staff-level approval.
The panel had lingering questions about the lift work after the meeting, including whether upgrading the Eagle and Silverlode Express lifts would increase ski and snowboard numbers and exceed the resort’s comfortable carrying capacity, which led to the decision being delayed until June 15.
Last week, the Planning Commission concluded its review and deliberation about the appeal after hearing from ski industry consultants, who attempted to explain discrepancies between their data and the opposition, but the panel wasn’t satisfied with the reasoning and ruled against the lift work.
Planning Commissioners Laura Suesser and John Kenworthy were most supportive of granting the appeal. They explained they saw PCMR’s proposal as inconsistent with a 1998 development agreement between the resort and the city, which includes a mountain upgrade plan and outlines growth at the resort base. The agreement states lift upgrades are to be reviewed administratively, rather than through the typical Planning Commission process, if six criteria are met.
Like the opposition, the majority of planning commissioners determined the application didn’t meet the requirements for a staff-level approval. The final action letter approved on Wednesday echoes last week’s discussions and outlines the inadequacies.
The letter states the Planning Commission determined the resort’s application didn’t meet criteria one and six of the development agreement because the alignment of the proposed Eagle lift was inconsistent with the mountain upgrade plan and the total comfortable carrying capacity listed is inaccurate, so the corresponding parking mitigation plan is therefore not appropriate. The document also referenced the eight-day-a-month lease for parking at Park City High School as insufficient to meet increased demand, data used in planning that was not comparable to Park City and the failure of the resort’s consultant to verify calculations provided by the appeal group as reasons for granting the appeal.
The Planning Commission altered some of the language used in the final action letter during the meeting before approval.
Deirdra Walsh, who recently took over as vice president and chief operating officer at PCMR, said in a prepared statement last week she was disappointed, confused and concerned by the Planning Commission’s vote.
Representatives for the resort haven’t commented on what the next steps are but said the decision means the Eagle and Silverlode Express lift upgrades will not happen before the 2022-2023 season. It’s also unclear whether a paid-parking system is still part of the plans for the upcoming ski season. The new measure to combat traffic was announced in part because of last winter’s big crowds, but it was also publicized amid early talks with City Hall about the proposed lift work.
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