Summit County Council narrowly approves height exception for Woodward action camp
Decision allows project to move forward
The Summit County Council narrowly approved a height exception for the Woodward action camp facility proposed at Gorgoza Park, the outdoor tubing hill located near Interstate 80.
Wednesday, County Council members, on a 3-2 vote, approved Powdr Corp.’s request to build the sports training facility more than 10 feet above what is allowed in the Snyderville Basin Development Code. Council members Roger Armstrong and Chris Robinson cast the dissenting votes.
“I just think it is the wrong process because I’m not sure this particular use is available to them under the current proposal that is being offered,” Armstrong said. “Community development has determined this building will be an accessory building and is designed to support the primary use. But it feels like we are trying to back into a use here.
Nearly 50 people attended the County Council meeting to support the project, Armstrong said, adding that council members also received several additional emails “asking us to approve it.”
“I don’t regard this as a terrible decision and I think it is fair for Kim (Carson), Claudia (McMullin) and Tal (Adair) to reach that decision because nothing that they approved forecloses the planning commission’s ability to get the job done,” he said. “My vote was precisely about the process. We need to honor the process and I’m not sure we did that. I didn’t want to create a precedent.”
Last week, the County Council held a public hearing about the issue, but delayed making a decision after council members questioned whether the building was allowed under the original development agreement.
“We have allowed a mechanism to go through that opens the door for abuse and I don’t think it is the correct process,” Armstrong said. “Claudia’s point that this is highly desired, I agree, but I disagree that we bend our rules to accommodate something that is desirable because we can’t unbend our rules to not accommodate something that is not.”
The indoor action sports training facility would be about 52,000 square feet. It would include trampolines, foam pits, ramps and a digital studio to train athletes in skiing, snowboarding, skate boarding, BMX biking and gymnastics, among other sports.
The outdoor tubing hill would be expanded and reconstructed to include a new four-person chair lift, riding and teaching terrain, an expanded mountain bike trail system and an outdoor skate park.
The current tubing hill, under Powdr Corp. ownership, was approved in July of 1999 through a development agreement for the Gorgoza Park Specially Planned Area. The development agreement requires all new buildings on the property to apply for a low-impact permit from the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission.
“We weren’t deciding the legality of it,” Armstrong said. “If the planning commission approves the use at that exact location then we said the height exception is granted. If they want to move it, they have to come back before us.
“I don’t fault the planning director for going down this route,” he said. “The only thing we did was provide an opinion if the planning commission were to approve this in the current form. If it is an accessory building, we have bent sideways to try and get this through.”
Kim Carson, a County Council member who supported the request, said she followed the recommendation of staff.
“It doesn’t mean we always vote in favor of that, but we felt like it was the right process and I feel like we owe it to staff and planning commission to do their job,” Carson said. “I still have a lot of questions about the project. The purpose is wonderful and would be a great asset to the community, but is that project and that building a right fit at that location? All of those are things need to be answered.”
Carson said the portion of the building that extends beyond what is allowed under the code is “not really a detriment to the area.”
“It’s one of those odds situations and I personally felt like this process will now enable staff to begin working on the real issues at hand and we didn’t have that ability to do that with what was in front of us as a council,” Carson said. “I think most people that I heard from that weren’t in support of it, it wasn’t necessarily about the height. It was the overall landscaping and building, and I want to assure them that there will be a full vetting process and public hearings where they can address those concerns with the commission”
A work session with the Basin Planning Commission has not yet been scheduled. To view the planning department staff report about the project, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/4244.
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