Time runs out on film studio bill
March 11, 2011
Time expired Thursday on a controversial bill that might have paved the way for a movie studio to be built at Quinn’s Junction.
Senate Bill 231 did not receive a vote in the Senate before the Utah legislative session ended at midnight. The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Mark Madsen of Utah County.
By creating a so-called film enterprise zone, S.B. 231 could have allowed the Quinn’s Junction Partnership to develop a movie studio on about 30 acres of land along the State Road 248 entryway into Park City.
Some local leaders were against the bill because the legislation could have overridden local zoning rules to benefit a private developer.
The Utah League of Cities and Towns and Utah Association of Counties expressed opposition for S.B. 231, Park City Mayor Dana Williams said.
"I think they saw the potential effects on their own communities, that this could be setting a precedent that the state can come in whenever they think something is economically viable and spot zone," Williams said.
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Passage of S.B. 231 could have resulted in hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial development being built at Quinn’s Junction without input from the public, he explained.
Williams said he was pleased the Legislature did not approve the bill.
But Park City’s relationship with the most powerful lawmakers on Utah’s Capitol Hill must improve if local officials expect to prevent similar bills from being introduced next year, he added.
"What I would like to do is possibly bring them up with their wives and have dinner here in Park City, let them get to know who we are, what we do and what our demographics are here," Williams said. "There is that image that we are all these wealthy people who live in starter castles, and I think it would be really worthwhile for them to come and see who we actually are."
The city has wrangled with Quinn’s Junction Partnership attorney Greg Ericksen over development approvals at Quinn’s for several years. Local leaders claimed Ericksen convinced Madsen to introduce S.B. 231.
"I think if we don’t get things settled with Greg Ericksen we will face this again next year," Williams said. "We’re going to need to work on how we settle that."
Supporters of the film studio claimed local leaders have unfairly blocked the development proposal at Quinn’s Junction. Ericksen has fought for years to get a project approved on the land.
Madsen said Raleigh Studios is interested in operating a production facility in the Park City area. Locating the studio at Quinn’s Junction could attract some of Hollywood’s most high-profile films, he said.
Supporters said the studio would create jobs and economic activity.
Coalville Mayor Duane Schmidt said he is not against building a movie studio at Quinn’s Junction.
He said the entire county could benefit from a production facility.
"From the individuals that I talk to, if there is a film studio here, it would definitely increase the activity of filming in Summit County," Schmidt said.
Small towns on the East Side of Summit County would likely provide sets for the film crews, he said.
"For cities like Coalville and Kamas and Francis and Oakley there would probably be an uptick," Schmidt said.