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City Council Member Responds To Brighton Estate Complaints

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As we reported several homeowners from Brighton Estates complained to the Park City Council last week that the city hasn’t recognized the traditional access rights they have to their homes, off the Bonanza Flat land now owned by the city.

Meanwhile, City Council member Tim Henney says his challenge to some of the angry homeowners is—if they have legal access that’s being denied, prove it.

Last week’s Council meeting brought out several complaints from an audience of nearly 30 people.

Henney said that the city has tried to reach accommodations to address safety and meet the needs of year-round residents at Brighton Estates. But their proposals have continually been rejected by some critics.

About last Thursday’s meeting, Henney told KPCW that there was enough disappointment to go around for everybody.

“The intent of buying that land was to put a conservation easement on it and protect the conservation values of that property. Everything that we’ve done from putting up fences, and creating safety corridors that can be used, at the request of Brighton Estates as an accommodation to them. We even have written into the language of the conservation easement some flexibility that wouldn’t normally be in a conservation easement to address those sorts of accommodations.”

He said that at the meeting, a factual background was presented by Bonanza Flat project manager Heinrich Deters and Wendy Fisher of Utah Open Lands. But they just can’t get some Brighton Estates owners on the same page.

“We cannot get there with certain members of Brighton Estates. It’s not everybody. There are many people in Brighton Estates who are reasonable and want to work towards an negotiated accommodation that would benefit everyone. The people controlling the narrative right now do not share that perspective. They are very augured in their traditional uses. Which have been trespassing, which have not been enforced. They’re making legal claims that do not exist. When they make legal claims that do not exist the natural reaction from Park City legal department is to say, 'prove it.'”

Henney said they’re trying to find a balance between two hard positions. He talked about the city’s perspective.

“Look Park City tax payers bought this land to preserve it. To keep it open, to have it uncluttered with a bunch of stuff at the Y parking area. To be able to access it for hiking, for non-motorized recreation purchases. Now a small group of people is asking for special treatment and certain privileges that aren’t’ available to everybody else. That makes no sense whatsoever. That would be an extreme view. The other end of that continuum is yeah lets just leave it the way that its been. It’s the wild, wild west up there it seems to have worked well. But it hasn’t worked well. I mean we have forest fire danger, we have people camping up there, we have people trespassing we have litter. We have an unsightly situation, at a minimum an unsightly situation, with a bunch of recreational vehicles that get parked up there at the Y parking area.”

He said one allegation from some homeowners reminded him of a local business owner who criticized the Treasure Hill bond.

“Now that doesn’t have anything to do with these accusations that are being made about Park City trying to close off access from Park City on roads. Are you kidding me? This sounds like a Mark Stemler conspiracy theory. I mean maybe he should be representing these folks. It’s unbelievable. They have public right-of-way on dedicated public roads that gives them access to their property. They’ve always had that. They’ve always used—well always-they’ve used these other tracks within private property and its never been enforced and they’ve become used to that.”

Among the specifics, he said the so-called “Y” parking area presents a problem.

“It extends beyond the road right-of-way. So, they are parking a bunch of vehicles, some of them are recreational, some of them for transportation but there’s a variety of stuff that accumulates up there over the winter. We’ve said we will not allow that to happen on our property at the Y. Now if they can work out something with Wasatch County that’s a different matter. They just have to show us the agreement. There has been nothing that has been shown. So what we’ve said is that we would like to move that parking space down Pine Canyon Road, build a parking lot that would be for both Park City residents and designated spots for those year-round residents of Brighton Estates and they’ve said no.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covers Summit County meetings and issues. KPCW snagged him from The Park Record in the '80s, and he's been on air and covering the entire county ever since. He produces the Week In Review podcast, as well a heads the Friday Film Review team.
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