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Summit County delays decision on Powdr’s action camp

Panel debates whether the building should even be allowed

Kathleen Johnston, a Jeremy Ranch resident and member of the Jeremy Ranch Homeowners Association, speaks against the Woodward action-camp proposal for Gorgoza Park during the Summit County Council meeting on Wednesday.
(Angelique McNaughton/Park Record)

On Wednesday, the Summit County Council delayed making a decision on Powdr Corp.’s request to increase the height of the proposed Woodward action-sports camp facility at Gorgoza Park. Beyond the request at hand, council members questioned whether the building was even allowed under the original development agreement.

After a nearly two-hour discussion that included public input, County Council members asked the applicant, PlanWorks Design, who appeared on behalf of Woodard and Powdr Corp., to “make the case that the building should even be allowed” before requesting to increase the height of the structure. Nearly 30 people attended the hearing.

“I’m concerned about the site in of itself and then I’m concerned the height will only exacerbate that,” Robinson said. “I think the problem with granting it now is we are assuming a site and a footprint and where it is going to be, but I think we are getting ahead on something like this when we are not even sure the building is allowed. We would be granting a height exception on a theoretical building.”

Gorgoza Park, a winter tubing facility located along Interstate 80 near Pinebrook, has been under Powdr Corp. ownership since the late 1990s. It was approved under a development agreement that allowed “a mountain outdoor recreation center” with a variety of “non-motorized outdoor recreation activities.” County staff recommended council approve the exception for the Woodward plan.

However, Robinson claimed the development agreement is silent on the size and the building itself. County Council Chair Roger Armstrong echoed his concerns, adding “the agreement doesn’t specifically mention moving the outdoor activities inside.”

Robinson said the project should have gone before the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission first, instead of the County Council. But, when a work session was held with the Planning Commission to consider the conditional-use permit application, commissioners and staff suggested addressing the height exception and low-impact permit.

Michael Barille, of PlanWorks Design, said the height exception is essential to the primary uses of the building, which would serve athletes in several different sports, including skiing, snowboarding, gymnastics, cheerleading, skateboarding and BMX freestyle bicycling. The structure would be about 52,000 square feet, with a height of 45.5 feet, with indoor trampolines, ramps, foam pits, a concrete skate park, and digital media studio

“If they don’t have the ability to build the building beyond the building height then the rest of the discussion is moot,” said Pat Putt, Summit County Community Development director. “If the applicant can’t get the height then they can’t move forward. I stand by my decision to recommend the applicant go this route.

“If it goes before the planning commission we would have to say deny it because it does not meet the height exception,” Putt said.

Public support of the project has been split since it was first introduced during an open house in June. At the hearing, residents from nearby neighborhoods spoke both in favor and against the proposal, with one referring to it as an “eyesore.”

Kathleen Johnston, a Jeremy Ranch resident and member of the Jeremy Ranch Homeowner’s Association, said her fellow Jeremy Ranch residents are generally opposed to the proposal and the facility’s impact on the environment and the residents.

“It is possible they can provide the experience they would like to, but it doesn’t have to be built to this height,” Johnston said. “They should be asked to revise their proposals and be asked to coexist with the residents who will be impacted by their presence.

“Woodward is a fun experience, for those who can afford to attend it, but for those of us who live in Jeremy Ranch this is not the right proposal in the right location from our point of view,” she said. “We respectfully ask you to reject this request.”

Marc Bechtold, of Pinebrook, compared the requested height of the building to other structures in the Basin. He said it is “considerably less” than the height of the Snyderville Basin Recreation Fieldhouse and the new Whole Foods Market on Landmark Drive.

Mike Sweeney, one of the developers on the Treasure project in Park City, said he supports the staff’s conclusion in suggesting approval of the height exception.

“I feel very comfortable with it and an extra little bit of height in that area against the mountain back drop,” Sweeney said. “I drive into Park City almost every day and I feel strongly about having the opportunity to improve our destination community. The project is something very special and I would love to have my grandkids participate in the facility at that location.”

Council members reluctantly agreed to revisit the matter at a later date once the site issues are addressed. Armstrong said “I think we have a split vote on this, at best.”

County Council member Kim Carson said “at this point with this design, I would vote against it.” She said the impact on the entry corridor is unnecessary and “having the additional height exasperates it.” But she said she supports the project.

County Council member Claudia McMullin distanced herself from fellow council members and spoke strongly in favor of the proposal, the height exception and the direction given to the applicant by staff.

“I think this is going to be a great facility,” McMullin said. “I think it is a beautiful building and I think the manner it was designed is better than the alternative of digging deeper. It fits better with Park City and our outdoor lifestyle.”

McMullin chided her fellow council members before the discussion ended for sending the “wrong message” about the project.

“I feel the message we have sent them, no one would spend another dime to pursue this any further,” McMullin said. “I would never come back to you guys after tonight ever. It has not been a very positive message.”

To view the staff report prepared in anticipation of the hearing, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/4223.


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