Summit County has failed us

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Summit County government has failed the populace with its decisions on Woodward at Gorgoza.

As you may have heard, The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission approved a new development at the Gorgoza Sledding Park. According to the Park Record it will “include a more than 52,000-square-foot action-sports center, equipped with indoor trampolines, ramps, foam pits, pump tracks, concrete skate park and a digital media studio. Other amenities would include a food court, lounge and coffee house, and a party room.” Outdoor amenities planned include lift served snow sports, riding and teaching terrain, expanded snow making tubing, a four-person chair lift, an outdoor skate park, expanded mountain biking trail system and freestyle-mountain biking terrain.

Also, keep in mind the 52,000 square foot building will be 45 feet high. That is 13 feet taller than is generally allowed in the Snyderville Basin. Just for reference, that is over 25% bigger than the new Whole Foods and over 10 feet taller.

So, how did we get here?

In 1999 POWDR Corp signed a development agreement with Summit County that speaks to a small indoor lodge and outdoor recreation. The Project Description says “Gorgoza park will offer a variety of non-motorized outdoor recreational activities that may include: snow tubing with up to 5 tube tows with up to four lanes per tow; snowplay; snowboarding accessed via a chair lift with a terrain park and two half pipes; snowblades and skiing; ice rink and skating; snowshoe and ski trails; winter alpine slide rides; toboggan and luge/bob rides; all terrain carts and thrill sleds; a climbing wall; a skate park and an all terrain skateboard area; BMX and mountain bike trails; alpine slide rides, and other uses consistent with the mountain outdoor recreation setting.”

What was approved then was truly an outdoor recreation facility.

What we will have now is that outdoor recreation facility, plus a 45 foot tall, 52,000 sq foot building (with a food court, coffee shop, etc, etc, etc.).

From a public perspective, it’s not the same thing that was originally agreed to in 1999. Yet, Summit County seemed to bend over backwards to make this work. In December 2016, the Summit County Council voted 3-2 to allow the height exception enabling the overside building to be built. Their reasoning seemed to be that we want recreation around Park City, and this development can’t work without a 45 tall building, so they allowed it.

They seemed to remember that Parkites like recreation but forgot that we have a water problem. They forgot we have a traffic problem. They forgot we have an affordable housing problem. They forgot we have a problem with employees driving up from the valley to work.

They also forgot that this decision could set a dangerous precedent for exceeding height restrictions. If all someone needs to prove is that you need the extra height to function, that’s a pretty low bar. I should say not all forgot, as council member Roger Armstrong cited that concern and voted against the height exception.

If the Council would have enforced the height restriction, and a 45 foot tall building was required to make the building viable, maybe Woodward at Gorgoza would have remained an outdoor facility as originally agreed to. Possibly, Woodward at Gorgoza may not have happened at all. Either way there would likely be less impact.

The second issue that happened along the way is that the Summit County Planning Department ruled that the 52,000 sq ft building was an accessory use to the property. This opened up the ability for the Woodward folks to apply for a conditional use permit (CUP). Once a CUP is all that is needed for development, all that can really be done per Utah law is to try and mitigate issues like traffic.

This then led the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission to approve the conditional use permit. While it would be easy to blame them for their approval, all they can generally do is try to mitigate issues once they are facing a conditional use permit. It’s much like the judge that has to let the murderer go on technicalities. In this case, all they can really do is to try to fix as many issues as possible. They can’t prevent it. They were put in this position by the decisions made before the issue came to them.

Of course, there are people who are excited for this development. They think it will improve property values. They believe it will be great to have a recreation facility so close to Pinebrook and Jeremy Ranch. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. That doesn’t change the fact that this development isn’t like what was originally approved. Given our current issues, it’s hard to see how the new agreement is better for the populace than what was originally agreed upon in 1999. In fact, if the development was delayed (or never happened at all), it would likely be better for traffic, noise, pollution, affordable housing, and the water issues we currently face.

The county buys a property like Cline Dahle for millions in order to put in a transportation hub and affordable housing, and then just further exacerbates the problems we are all trying to solve, by enabling something like Woodward at Gorgoza. It makes no sense.

On this one, we believe Summit County government completely botched this.

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Parkrag

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15 comments

  • I read the proposal a while back. It said that the traffic study showed that the Jeremy interchange was at a critical level. In other words, no more traffic could be handled at peak travel times.

    So the planning commission approved it.

    The noise study for the snow makers was comparing the noise level to I80 traffic at peak traffic during the day. But the snow making happens over night when I80 traffic is quieter. The snow machines are loud and will now be louder.

    So the planning commission approved it.

    Hours of operation are from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm. Now the hours are extended from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm. Woodward visitors and employees will now compete with morning school and work traffic. Lights out will interfere with the surrounding neighborhoods taxpaying workers and students.

    So the planning commission approved it.

    I think everything Woodward is offering is already available in Park City except, as far as I know, cheerleading.

    Does anyone look out for the local taxpayer? I’m looking forward to the doubling of the Jeremy population with the Cline Dahle development.

    • While it’s helpful to site “facts” about building structure height variances and traffic studies you should be sure you are entering all of the facts. I went to the Planning commission the night the approval was given to Woodward several weeks ago. It is important to note several things from that meeting that need to be clarified here:
      Height Variance – the entire building will NOT be 45 feet. In fact the overwhelming majority of the proposed building will be well within standard regulation height. The building has been designed to be tiered and the 45 ft. area is a very small percentage of the overall building. Please look closely at architectural plans and you will see that while a variance was granted it is not being used for the entire building! For people fighting against this project who are referencing a giant wall of a building that is just not the case.
      As for the traffic study showing the the Jeremy interchange is a “critical level”, I believe that is why UDOT is improving the Jeremy ranch and the pinebrork intersections as early as this coming spring. UDOT is apparently installing 2 large roundabouts to better handle traffic. My understanding is that these improvements are being made with the new development in mind. So the old traffic study showing critical capacity with the existing infrastructure is now moot.
      Hours of operation – a 9am opening time will not compete with school schedules as all surrounding schools are well in session long before 9 am. During the work week the majority of visitor traffic to woodward I assume will be after school – thus after the school rush is over and then throughout the evening. Weekend traffic for woodward won’t conflict with school as it won’t be in session and the typical M-F work commute will also not be a concern.
      And finally, No, all that Woodward is offering is not currently available in the community. That is like saying we shouldn’t have a grocery store because there is already a bakery, a butcher, a small convenience store and a vegetable stand in town.
      I respect and appreciate views on all sides of this argument. What I find irresponsible are people using half of the information such that a skewed presentation is made to forward their own agenda.
      There have been multiple meetings open to the public with public comment periods for this project. If someone is truly concerned then attend the meetings and make your voice heard. Be present to hear all of the facts, in totality, as they are presented. Engage in the formal process.

  • Great idea horrible location.
    Suburbia, noise pollution, fake snow clouds, traffic, goodbye night sky, disregard for hillside residential zoning, exceptions,variances, not protecting view shed, pay big to play, 98 percent children most impacted who live on kilby road will never be able to afford to even go. Climate change, burn more coal to make fake snow to enrich exactly who?

    • “98% of children most impacted won’t even be able to afford to go there”. Really?! 98% that’s a lovely arbitrary statistic. I have yet to see any program costs for the facility so who is to say who will and won’t afford to go to Woodward. Woodward traditionally works hard to provide scholarships to camps and other programs to children who qualify. Not to mention that “98%” of the children living in the pinebrook and jeremy ranch area are hardly from destitute families. The majority of families in those areas are indeed hard working middle class families. They do however, seem to manage to afford the Park City lifestyle.
      The families living in low income housing are not the ones taking the brunt of the development impact. That is a stretch to try to say they are. They are several miles down the road with more than the one direction to travel in and out of their homes.
      I think it is fair to say that using the assumed cost of woodward admission and the assumed population of effected people is not at all a sound argument or helpful. So again, let’s stick to facts.

      • It’s the same story all over again – people go absolutely bananas with their claims in opposition. The hyperbole and hysteria get old after a while (as with the wall issue) – no reasonable person who has seen the line of Porsche Cayennes and BMWs waiting to pick their kids up at Jeremy or Ecker thinks that 98% of those kids won’t be able to afford to go do stuff at Woodward. It’s so ridiculous to claim that that it immediately devalues any other legitimate points the poster might have had.

        The big issue (regardless of how you feel about the facility itself) is that Summit County isn’t willing to enforce it’s own rules. Now, you might think the height limit is a stupid rule (as I do, we should be building 40 story apartment buildings if everyone is so concerned with affordable housing, open space, and traffic) but if you think that you should lobby to get the rule changed. Having developers able to bypass these restrictions seemingly at will means that sooner or later something you *really* don’t like will come along and get approved the same way.

        I am indifferent to the Gorgoza project or perhaps slightly positive (though I only live 1/4 mile away) but I am furious that Summit County can’t enforce it’s own development policies. That’s the real issue here.

  • Suburbia,light pollution, traffic, noise pollution, fake now clouds, disregard for hillside residential zoning, expired development agreement, exceptions, variances,climate change, burn more coal to make more snow, pay big to play 98 % children most impacted who live on kilby road wont even be able to afford to go. Viewshed corridor now high density, air pollution. This is NOT the location for this giant development.

    • I’m not a huge fan of this project either, anon, but “suburbia”? That’s exactly what Jeremy Ranch and Pinebrook are already. I mean, condos and huge McMansions and a golf course? What would you call that if not suburbia?

  • Although i actually like the dea of the entertainment value for good wholesome fun for kids, I really take issue with how this project has grown into the monstrosity it seems to offering. It’s a horrible burden on natural resources with seemingly no foresight on traffic, congestion, lack of parking, and most of all the people who would love to use it but can I’ll afford it. It reminds me of the lining of the pockets of developers, rather than truly thinking of the communities. It ha gone too far!

  • I did attend both meetings. I think people have been very vocal and have had their voices heard. I find it dissapointing the council listened, yet didn’t seem to offer up any mitigating options. My take away was folks who support this far and wide were not being directly impacted by the effects. I was particularly saddend for the folks in Pinbrook who were thrown under the bus. I agree with Walt and the bigger concern is the disregard of zoning, extensions, variances and Conditional use permits. It’s unfair to change the rules on them. The neighborhoods didn’t sign up for that. Much like treasures 1980s “vested” rights doesn’t make it right 30 years later. There is a reason development codes expire. Having more adventures for kids is aswesome but the large scale of this development is to much. I think the affected neighborhoods should have compromises. lights off at 9? No snowmaking after 6am? rope tow vs 4 speed quad and not running it up to the back of the pineridge neighbors backyards? Berm landscaping to hide large warehouse building? Decrease size of building down? Transportation hub vs more parking spaces.? I think this could be scaled back and be a win, if not at least tolerable, for everyone.,,,, but the problem i saw was no one in the meetings seemed to care about their concerns, they politely listened but It definitely felt like a done deal with every request by powder Corp being granted. Most evidenced by the quickly approved exception for stream set back for more parking spaces for heavens sake! Really? I incourage everyone to acknowledge your neighbors grievances and help support them on doing something about it.

  • You criticize a development that drives youth development and empowerment but fail to note – for context – the more aggregious developments in the form of a Wal-Mart, discount outlets, a McDonalds and a truly monstrous Sinclair welcome sign on I-80.

    Woodward is really an extended daycare facility that fuels community fabric and is a true manifestation of healthy values for youth.

    At least it adds to the foundational elements of life in Park City vs. Michaels and Del Taco.

    Lighten the F up. Be grateful. Stop whining.

    • Jeff S.

      I criticize the school district, which you know, drives a lot more youth development, at a much more affordable rate, than Woodward Park City ever will. I’ll also note that your straw man argument about not criticizing McDonald’s, the outlet mall, and Walmart isn’t exactly accurate. I have criticized all those developments… well maybe not McDonald’s because It think it was built before I was born…

      I have nothing against Woodward Park City. I’m sure it will do some lovely things. Will it “fuel community fabric” and become a true manifestation of healthy values for youth? UHH, that sounds straight out of a Woodward investment brochure. Again, though, I’m sure it will do some good things (and probably some bad things) for kids who go there.

      That said, what I do take issue with is the way the County bent over backwards, broke their own rules, and allowed this project to go forward where it is, like it is. If they would have started over from scratch and we could have had a community discussion where a true, open conversation was made as to what should have been developed there, that would have been fine…

      We didn’t get that. I’m upset at the process, and the impacts given where it is.

      If we would have worked to figure out the best place in the Basin for Woodward based on transportation, affordable housing, etc. I’d likely be welcoming Woodward.

  • With Woodward comes the Cline Dahle development and thousands of more vehicles. Not sure how effective the roundabouts will be at that point.

    Kimball Junction is the business area. Woodward is being built in a residential area. Not a fair comparison. Neither is a gas station sign compared to a 52,000 square foot building with lights permanently on.

    It’s nice how the employees and relatives of Woodward, along with those not affected keep telling those that are affected that we’re “being petty; we should move; lights, noise and traffic are just minor inconveniences.” Oh, and now the “F” word is being used just so Jeff can have extended day care. I wonder how empowered my kids will be when they fall asleep in class from the loud nights of snow making?

    • FYI, since some people don’t have access to Next Door… Here is the post, with the intention of providing community information to as many people as possible:

      *****************************************************
      Woodward Gorgoza Park City
      A number of appeals to the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission decision to grant a Conditional Use Permit to Woodward Gorgoza Park City have been filed with the county.

      If anyone would like to be listed in support of these appeals, send your name, address, e-mail and phone number to .

      You will be notified when the Summit County Council is scheduled to hear the appeals.

  • Agree with D’s points re: process, could’ve been improved – and likely always can be better.

    Re: Anon
    I am Laughing out loud:
    “built in a residential area,”
    …or otherwise described as the I-80 corridor, perhaps the very definition of an industrial artery. There is already snowmaking on site which does not interrupt my slumber or that of my children, and a few more guns will not change that.

    I live here. I love Pinebrook. But it is barely a residential area – it is mostly a place that people could build houses slightly cheaper than PC. Residential zoning was forced on Pinebrook, not originally part of its ID on the valley floor…it is historically zoned industrial and commercial all the way from the gravel pit to Kimball and beyond…

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