Summit County Council reviews appeals of hotel project
The Summit County Council began the arduous process last week of wading through hundreds of pages of documents as part of the appeals that were filed regarding the recent approval of a hotel project at the former Colby School property on S.R. 224.
County Council members heard more than four hours of testimony on Jan. 17 from the appellants and the representatives of the applicant. The Council agreed to postpone a decision until next month.
County Councilor Roger Armstrong said the Council received a more-than-300-page packet from the attorney of one of the appellants the night before the meeting, adding “there is just a lot of material to get through.”
“I think this is probably as complicated of an issue as we have heard, and it has a significant number of moving pieces,” Armstrong said. “We need some time to get our arms around the legal issues and meet with our legal team to understand this appeal.”
The appeals stem from the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission’s decision to approve an application for a 15-room hotel, 5,000-square-foot restaurant, and yoga and fitness studios at the site, east of S.R. 224, on Dec. 12. The vote was 6-1, with Chuck Klingenstein dissenting. Planning Commissioners Canice Harte, Bea Peck, Joel Fine, Malena Stevens, Ryan Dickey and Thomas Cooke agreed to approve the application.
Members of the Park West Preservation Coalition, which represents several property owners in Park West Village, and Joe Wrona, an attorney representing resident Andrew Levy, filed two separate applications on Dec. 22 to appeal the planning panel’s decision.
In 2014, the former Colby School/Snowed Inn property was acquired by Emma Worsley and Julie McBroom. Summit County originally approved the Snowed Inn and related uses as a Class II development 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. A representative for the developers did not respond to The Park Record’s multiple requests for comment before deadline.
Wrona continues to maintain that the proposed hotel is actually an outdoor concert venue, which is not allowed under the original approvals in the 1980s. He said the site is not appropriate for the project because it is surrounded by three neighborhoods and exists in a rural residential zone.
Wrona told County Council members the Planning Commission’s decision “will get turned around” in district court if the Council doesn’t reverse it.
“I made that advice to the Planning Commission and I’m making the same advice to you. You can’t mitigate an outdoor special event center like this,” he said during the meeting. “The bottom line here is that this parcel has been the poster child for the problems that result from creeping entitlements for a long, long time. We are seeing a Canyons-style development proposal for the other side of the street in the middle of three neighborhoods.”
Kathryn Sonzini, representing the Park West Preservation Coalition, said that when she bought her home in Park West Village, she knew she was going to be living next to a bed and breakfast and understood they had weddings in the summer. She didn’t anticipate the impacts she claims the new project would cause, however.
Sonzini said the hotel project will depreciate the value of homes in the three surrounding neighborhoods.
“The Coalition believes the Planning Commission was misguided by the planning and legal departments, resulting in egregious errors,” she said at the meeting. “We believe the Colby School project should be reduced in size, scope, density and intensity.”
The applicants for the hotel have repeatedly stated they have attempted to mitigate the project as best as they could. The Planning Commission spent a significant portion of the meetings leading up to the approval discussing ways to mitigate the impacts the hotel would have on traffic, lights and sound.
The County Council plans to meet in closed session over the next few weeks to discuss the appeal and receive guidance from the legal department. However, a decision has to be made before the public.
The matter is scheduled to be reviewed during the Feb. 7 County Council meeting.
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The Coalville native doesn’t see any major roadblocks for this year’s fair, though presenting in front of the County Council is a little nerve wracking.