Summit County’s rejection of Colby School bed-and-breakfast is overturned in court
Judge orders county to allow proposal to move forward
A 3rd District Court judge has overturned a Summit County Council land-use decision, ruling that the proposal to use the former Colby School site as a bed-and-breakfast must be allowed to proceed and that the county’s denial was not supported by its own code.
Judge Teresa Welch on Friday remanded the case back to the county, where the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission will once again evaluate it.
The land in question includes a Victorian-style mansion and outbuildings on 5 acres of land just across S.R. 224 from the entrance to the Canyons Village base area of Park City Mountain Resort. Hoffvest LLC, which owns the land and prevailed in court, is seeking to use the mansion as an eight-room bed-and-breakfast.
An attorney for the applicants said he anticipates returning to the commission shortly and that his clients are still interested in pursuing the bed-and-breakfast plan.
A Summit County attorney declined to comment about a potential appeal.
The Planning Commission is still empowered to place conditions on the land-use permit, like limiting the number or duration of special events and ensuring adequate parking and inoffensive lighting.
But the question as to whether Hoffvest’s bed-and-breakfast proposal complies with the county’s land-use code has just been settled in court, and the commission will be charged only with determining the project’s potential impacts and how to mitigate them.
The proposal is the latest — and smallest — in a sometimes litigious multi-year quest to use the estate for commercial purposes after the LLC purchased it in late 2014. A group of neighbors has consistently opposed proposals to use the buildings as businesses, saying that doesn’t fit with the surrounding single-family home neighborhoods.
The Planning Commission, and then the County Council upon appeal, ruled that the application failed to satisfy the requirement in county code that the bed-and-breakfast be owner occupied.
Welch ruled that the building is owner occupied, reversing the county’s decision.
Hoffvest listed the property for sale while the lawsuit was pending, asking $5.5 million for the land and buildings.
The listing agent for the sale did not immediately respond to a request for comment after the ruling, and Hoffvest’s attorney Robert McConnell said he was not aware of his clients accepting any offers on the land.
Listing agent John Travis said before the mid-February deadline for offers that he’d seen strong demand for commercial uses for the property, but was surprised with the lack of interest in the property as a 16,000-square-foot residential estate.
The purchase was set to be contingent on the new owner receiving approval from the county for any commercial plans, and Travis said Hoffvest was carefully evaluating which offers would be likely to survive the county’s approval process.
The mansion was built in the 1980s and in 1985 approved for use as a small hotel, which was called the Snowed Inn. It was used as a school starting in 2001 until 2008, and is still colloquially referred to by that name, the Colby School.
Hoffvest in 2015 applied to use the site and neighboring property for a 55-room hotel and cabin complex with a 5,000-square-foot restaurant. The applicants have winnowed the proposal in the intervening years, briefly gaining approval for a 15-room hotel, 5,000-square-foot restaurant and yoga and fitness studio concept in 2017 before the County Council reversed the Planning Commission’s approval.
That resulted in a lawsuit that was dismissed in 2019. Months later, Hoffvest applied for a conditional use permit to operate as a bed-and-breakfast, which is allowed under the county code with certain conditions, including that it be owner occupied.
The Planning Commission initially rejected that application last June.
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