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Snyderville Planning Commission Ponders Colby School As Bed And Breakfast Inn

Snyderville Basin Planning Commission

The Snyderville Planning Commission Tuesday night did not come to a decision on the proposal to revive the Colby School building along Highway 224 as a Bed and Breakfast Inn.

In a Virtual public hearing, they heard from some critics of the proposal.     And after a lengthy discussion, they said they need more information about how the project will operate as an “owner-occupied” business.

The applicants are proposing to renovate the building known as the Colby School (and before that, the Snowed Inn) to accommodate eight guest rooms, one owner-occupied unit and a kitchen.

The electronic public hearing brought out three speakers.   Resident Andrew Levy noted he was one of the group of neighbors who had opposed a multiple-use expansion of the Colby site.    That led to an appeal two years ago to the County Council, which voted down the plan.   Levy asked the Snyderville Commissioners to remember that.       

“I still don’t feel that the application has met the standards that the County Council was looking for when they sent this back and rejected the original application.  The actual idea of a Bed and Breakfast as a neighbor is something we welcome greatly.   We just don’t think we’re doing enough diligence to meet the standards that the neighbors surrounding expect, nor that the County Council pretty clearly asked for in their last rule.”

Another speaker, Kathy Sonzini, said that the applicants, in their replies to the county staff, are implying that they want to operate with uses akin to a year-round resort.   

“They kind of cite their rendition  of previous Colby School commercial uses that would not be permitted under the current code and use table.   And this kind of suggests two things to me.   One—that the current applicant plans to hold large events, and Two, that they want you to believe the adjacent neighborhood is used to this type of activity.   And I’ve lived in ParkWest Village during both the Snowed Inn and Colby School operations.   And I can confirm for you the neighbors were very negatively impacted by events at the Snowed Inn.”

The Colby site has been the location for a Pilates/yoga/fitness studio operating in recent years under a Low Impact Permit, and the planning staff has determined that use can continue.    One resident said the Pilates studio shows the owners want to use the property for whatever Commercial use they can, in what is a Rural Residential zone.

Another major issue concerns if the new proposal could be used for events.

Brooke Hontz, the private planner for the owner, Hoffvest, said their intent is to operate a Bed and Breakfast, but they wouldn’t shut the door if a gathering was appropriate for the site, and they would apply under the county’s Special Event Permit process.        

“I’ve been to weddings at Bed and Breakfasts.  In fact, I’ve attended weddings at the Snowed Inn and at the Colby School when it wasn’t a Bed and Breakfast.  And so you automatically go to—well, could there be some sort of event in a beautifully-maintained and landscaped place.  Yes, we see that all the time.  That isn’t the intention of this business plan.  That isn’t the intention of Emma and Hoffvest.  But the concept of not allowing them would also be unacceptable.  Because the whole idea is to have this Bed and Breakfast succeed as a Bed and Breakfast.  And what that may bring in the future, as far as types of events that are appropriate on that site, we don’t know.”

She said the Permitting process will allow the county to address such items as lighting, noise and parking.

Deputy County Attorney Jami Brackin agreed an Event Permit would be appropriate for a gathering beyond the normal use of the Bed and Breakfast Inn.

Likely the toughest question on Tuesday was to establish what an ‘owner-occupied unit” is.   That’s legally necessary to establish the Colby as a B and B, rather than a small hotel.

The owner, however, is not an individual, but a corporate entity, Hoffvest LLC.

The project’s attorney, Robert O’Connell, claimed that the county code doesn’t have a clear definition of what an “owner’ is.

The Snyderville Commissioners had varied responses.   Joel Fine said he was leaning toward the condition recommended by staff—saying that before a business license is granted to the Colby, the applicants have to show that the occupant has a “deeded ownership interest in the Property.”

Planning Commissioners Thomas Cooke and Canice Harte said they’d like to get more information, and clarity about the business structure.    And panel members Krystal Simons and Malena Stevens said they would like the occupant to be identified.

The Snyderville Commission voted to continue the item to the next available date.   One dissenting vote came from Planning Commissioner John Kucera.      

“To me, that point of Ownership is based on what legal counsel and the staff has viewed it as.   I’m having a difficult time understanding what to do with that information.   My preference is far more on the Conditioning side, and that’s just based on my very primitive understanding of how this legal law is interpreted.  I agree with all the intent stuff.”

Snyderville Commissioner John Kucera.

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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