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Wolf Mountain settles beef with county

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff
Summit County has settled a dispute with Wolf Mountain some claimed was stalling construction of a golf course at The Canyons. Photo by Grayson West/Park Record
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A dispute has been resolved between Summit County and a major landowner at The Canyons that had perhaps stalled construction of a golf course viewed as critical to the development of the four-season resort.

"We have now signed a settlement agreement and within 10 days they’ll convey the golf course parcels that they own to an entity that is owned by the county," said David Gee, special counsel for Summit County, about commitments made by Wolf Mountain Resorts managing partner Kenny Griswold.

Griswold said, "I love it."

"Progress is always great news and I’m excited about the progress for The Canyons, I’m excited about the progress for the community and I’m excited about the progress for Wolf Mountain," he added.

Wolf Mountain agreed also to provide land to construct roads, water lines, trails and golf-cart paths, Gee said.

"We’re pretty sure the golf course can go ahead and the county’s hoping it’ll start next spring," he said.

In the late 1990s, Wolf Mountain, American Skiing Company, The Canyons’ parent, and roughly 20 other landowners pledged with Summit County to cooperatively construct a golf course near The Canyons.

A development agreement with Summit County obligated The Canyons Resort Village Management Association to build a golf course in 2002.

"We’re thrilled that we have done everything that we need to do to get the golf course built," said Victoria Fitlow, an attorney for Wolf Mountain. "We wanted to make sure that the open space was taken care of and we’re happy that it’s behind us."

As enforcer of the development agreement, the Summit County Commission recently sued Wolf Mountain Resorts when land and easements for the golf course weren’t provided.

"They refused to perform and they were claiming that they didn’t have to perform," Gee said. "Luckily, after we filed, they were willing to talk and the county was willing to talk and it got resolved."

Concerns, however, remain among private landowners at the resort, Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer said.

"It takes the county out of the legal equation," Richer said about this week’s settlement with Wolf Mountain. "The issues that now exist are issues that will need to be negotiated or litigated between Wolf, ASC and others, and the county’s objective, simply, is to continue to try to facilitate the construction of the golf course."

It’s envisioned members of the public would be allowed access to the 18-hole course at The Canyons expected to cost more than $13 million.

"This was deemed to be an economic engine for the county," Richer said, adding that the development agreement clustered buildings from 4,000 acres onto roughly 400 acres of land at The Canyons. "That’s why we care."

Meanwhile, before the golf course is built, The Canyons Resort Village Management Association, the group overseeing its construction, must resolve issues among landowners in the lower portion of the resort, Gee said.

"The county wants to encourage the parties to get it done," he said, adding, "It’s not appropriate for the county to get involved in some of these private dealings."

"The Wolf land that was involved in this is the bulk of the golf course."

The Resort Village Management Association remains cautiously optimistic Wolf Mountain will fulfill its commitments, said Joanne Nadalin, the association’s director.

"What I really hope is that this is the first step toward Wolf fulfilling its obligations and demonstrating that it supports construction of the golf course," Nadalin said Thursday.

The settlement agreement could provide roughly 70 percent of the land for the golf course, she added.

"Wolf has signed the settlement agreement but they have not actually conveyed any of the land," Nadalin said.


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