Seasonal workers living at former Colby School property told to vacate
Fire district issues notice to property owners
March 21, 2017
Nearly 30 seasonal workers living at the former Colby School property along the east side of State Road 224 are being forced to find somewhere else to live after the Park City Fire District issued a notice to vacate to the property owners earlier this month.
According to Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt, a citizen complaint to the fire district on March 10 sparked an investigation that involved the Summit County Planning and Building Department. Hewitt said it was discovered that nearly 30 people were living in the former Colby School building. They have until April 2 to vacate.
Hewitt said the fire district conducted a full fire inspection and found that the property owners had only provided the "minimum standard" to meet fire regulations. It is unclear what, if any, penalties the property owners could face for violating fire regulations.
"They just need to go to planning and building to get the proper permits," Hewitt said. "We are going back on April 3 to verify that all occupants have vacated the residence. We didn't just kick them out right away because we would have been kicking people out on the street. All we are worried about is life and safety."
In 2014, the former Colby School/Snowed Inn property was acquired by Emma Worsley and Julie McBroom operating as Hoffvest LLC. The native Australians have lived in Park City for more than five years and have plans to develop the site as a wellness center. Summit County originally approved the Snowed Inn and related uses as a Class II development in August of 1985.
Attempts by The Park Record to reach the owners were unsuccessful. A representative of the project said McBroom and Worsley are currently out of the country.
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The 1998 Development Code allowed for a change of use in the existing building from a hotel to a school and it operated as the Colby School until 2008.
Earlier this year, a conditional-use permit application was submitted to the county requesting approval for a 39-room hotel, three cabin-style rooms, a 5,000-square-foot restaurant, plus yoga and fitness studios. The project would 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 to accommodate 130 spaces.
The project has received significant backlash from the residents in the three surrounding neighborhoods, who claim the project violates county code regarding commercial projects in the Snyderville Basin. As of Tuesday, an online petition opposing the proposal had collected 93 signatures.
Joe Wrona, the attorney representing several homeowners on the issue, said he is "not surprised at all that the developer has been breaking the law" while, at the same time, appearing in front of the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission and holding itself out as "an innocent-and-law abiding developer."
"This has been going on all winter and we have reason to believe it was occurring last winter.
This is the most glaring example of a planning department and commission blinding itself to the reality of the applicants' disingenuous nature and the blatant unfeasibility and community insensitivity of any proposal that I have been involved with," Wrona said. "It is outrageous that an owner of a property that is zone restricted to low impact uses is able to completely disregard not only the health and safety of the people who are being housed there, but the health and safety of surrounding neighborhoods. It has been a sham from the beginning."
In an interview with The Park Record on Tuesday, Pat Putt, Summit County Community Development Director, said any punitive action would have to come from the fire district. Putt emphasized that the county is appropriately addressing the situation.
"Our focus is on curing the problem, not issuing a fine," Putt said. "I think we have a clear solution and clear timeframe. We are having a meeting later today to talk with affected agencies. The next business day after the complaint, we went out there identified the problem and gave them a notice. We did exactly what they (residents) are asking of us."
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