Trailhead parking still an issue

Sarah MoffittThe Park Record

After spending a large portion of last fall and winter in front of the Summit County Council and Basin Planning Commission, the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District thought they were in the clear to begin constructing trailhead parking at many of their popular trails. Instead, they recently learned that according to county code, they would be forced to install landscaping and snow storage at their new parking lots, even if they were small and adjacent to miles of open space.

According to Trails Project Manager for Basin Recreation Senta Beyer, the district is now back in front of the planning commission trying to figure out exactly what code guidelines Basin Recreation has to comply with when building trailhead parking.

"We have land we want to buy near Highland Estates so that we can put in parking spaces with access to Round Valley and we want to build trailhead parking near the Utah Olympic Park," Beyer said. "We want to be able to take cars off of the street and make it easier for people to access the trails, but with all the confusion surrounding the parking code, we are continuously delayed."

Last fall, some Summit Park residents complained about a dirt parking lot Basin Recreation had built, which led the planning commission to realize there was nothing in the County Code allowing for trailhead parking. The County Council created a code amendment to allow Basin Recreation to build trailhead parking after they go through a conditional use permit process and hold a public hearing.

Summit County Planner Amir Caus said some unforeseen side effects resulted from the code amendment, including the necessity for landscaping and open space.

"The recreation district is trying to figure out a way so that each of their parking lots can have different styles and be held to different standards," Caus said. "The Planning Commission has given the planning staff some direction on creating wording that addresses different parking lots, locations and material but there is still a lot to work out."

Beyer said that under the current code, Basin Recreation is mostly limited to 10 parking spots at each trailhead.

"Some of our really popular trails need a lot more space than that," she said. "Otherwise, people block the road and create chaos. We want each lot to have its own process. If the trailhead parking is in a neighborhood, we will do landscaping. If it is only a few spots near open space, we want to leave it alone."

Beyer added that Basin Recreation is waiting to purchase additional land for trailhead parking or construct parking lots until the process is worked out.

"We were hoping to have a few more trailheads by this summer, but now we need to get the code amended and then go through the CUP process for each trail," Beyer said. " the looks of it, we may not be able to add any parking until the winter. We have always done our due diligence with trailheads and want to continue to do so, but the drawn out process is getting frustrating."

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