Guest editorial: Rossie Hill zone change |

Guest editorial: Rossie Hill zone change

Richard Dennis, Salt Lake City

My daughters and I own the three homes and surrounding property located at 622, 652, and 660 Rossie Hill Drive. My family has owned these three homes for about 100 years. I was born in the middle white house in November, 1932. My father, Austin Henry Dennis, died in 1935, due to a cave-in at the Park City mine. My mother, Glady Wood Dennis, lived in the house until her death in 1992, at age 88.

I went to Park City middle schools and graduated from Park City High School in 1951 then served in the U. S. Army during the Korean War. I received the G.I. Bill and graduated from the University of Utah. My wife’s name is LaRue and I have two daughters and 5 grandchildren.

After living in and owning these properties for decades, my mother and I became aware that the U. S. Bureau of Land Management owned the title to the properties. In October 2007, my daughters and I filed an application with the BLM to acquire the titles under the federal Color of Title Act, the same process that the Bertagnoles followed to obtain title to the adjacent parcel in 2013. Our application is still pending, but we have good reason to believe it will be granted and we will obtain clear title to the properties, which together total about three-quarters of an acre.

I recently received an e-mail from Anya Grahn, Park City Planning Department, stating that the Planning Department will be recommending to the City Council a rezoning of my properties, as well as the home at 632 Deer Valley Loop. While it is not at all clear what type of rezoning would be sought, it is readily apparent that the move would be toward reducing density.

The materials include a petition from a newly formed group called the Save Rossie Hill Historic Open Space group, signed by some 300 people (many from places other than Park City). My question is, where were these people when all the homes were built on Rossie Hill Drive, which previously was open space? Also, where were they when the condo was build a few years ago, right next to the home Beth Fratkin rents from me? All these homeowners, builders, and condo owners made financial gains off of their properties with Park City Planning department’s approval. Now the petition for open space on Rossie Hill wants to pass a re-zone of our properties, which would presumably devalue them. If our property was re-zoned to open space, it would discriminate against our constitutional rights!

The preservation of open space by preventing otherwise lawful development on our properties, which together are a little over one acre, may have been a legitimate public goal years ago, before all other properties in the area were developed. Further, to the extent the City believes it is appropriate to create a park or put the properties to some other public use, it can certainly negotiate for a purchase. In fact, in May of this year we had a telephone meeting between our family and Heinrich Deters and Tom Daley of Park City Municipal. I told them I was willing to sell my property to Park City at fair market value. The offer still stands, subject to satisfactory resolution of our Color of Title application with the BLM.

I humbly request that the Honorable Mayor and the Park City Council reject the petition to re-zone.