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Summit County Council Validates Entry Gate At The Trails At Jeremey Ranch Neighborhood

The Summit County Council took a vote Wednesday resolving a controversy that’s been pending for two years—with a history going back over 20 years.

The Council voted, 4 to 1, to validate an entry gate at the Trails at Jeremy Ranch neighborhood. They granted an appeal from the Trails HOA and overturned a ruling from their County Manager.

The entry gate was constructed in 2001. In a ruling nearly two years ago, County Manager Tom Fisher determined the gate was an illegal, nonconforming use. He said it was prohibited under the code that existed at the time of construction, which did not list it under the allowed use categories or use charts.

But the homeowners filed a lawsuit last year, and appealed to the Council this year, arguing that the gate was shown in their plans and had been allowed by the county.

County Council Member Doug Clyde said Wednesday he voted for the gate based on two basic factors. The County Commission in the 1990’s stated their approval of the Trails at Jeremy Ranch, came with the conditions granted by the Planning Commission. And the Planning Commission specifically took away the prohibition against a gate.

Council Member Chris Robinson agreed with Clyde’s finding.

“I believe that the gate was approved by the Planning Commission after a robust discussion,” Robinson continued “and that the Board of County Commissioners approved the project subdivision with the same conditions and same understandings that were approved by the Planning Commission. So, I believe the gate was legally approved, and the subsequent acts of whether or not it had a building permit are not compelling for me.”

Glenn Wright voted against the entry gate and explained why.

“I did not see in the word approval of the gate by the County Commission,” Wright explained. “Further, in their notes on the County Commission, if they had approved the gate, there would have had to have been some approval by the Fire Department, and that was absent in the specific notes that were in the approval. And further, there’s no building permit pulled on the gate.”

Roger Armstrong voted to grant the appeal, but he said he was reluctant in doing so. He said he was troubled that the record shows the County Commission did not discuss whether the gate was allowed, though they had been directed to do so by the staff. He noted that left him and other Council members struggling to define what an allowed use was at the time.

“And I think Chris, y’know, put a lot of work into that part of the discussion as to whether a gate was a use that was subject to the code at the time,” Armstrong said. “And I think if you look at the category of uses as they’re outlined in the code at the time, they tend to be broader business-type uses, not exclusively, but they do tend to be broader. I could probably be convinced that it was a prohibited use. But it, again, it’s not perfectly clear to me”

He said that in any event, the Trails landowners relied on what they deemed to be an approval by the county.

“Even if we went down that road, and said it was a prohibited use, you’ve got a land-use authority that made a decision that may have been counter to the code, may have been illegal, or not a code decision,” Armstrong continued. “The landowner then acted upon that decision and constructed something that they thought they had a right to construct based upon it. And I find that troubling as well.”

Armstrong said the waters were also muddied because there was no evidence a building permit was granted for the gate, though the county allowed electricity to be run out to the site.

A motion from the Council granted the appeal for the gate. But it said before the gate is re-installed, it has to have a review from the county engineer, the building department, and the Park City Fire District.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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