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Summit County shuts down Park City school construction over permit, code, zoning violations

JRES construction July 2022.jpg
KPCW
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Equipment and a contractor's trailer sit idle at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School July 20, 2022.

County officials issued a notice of violation and a stop work order to the Park City School District over multiple building code violations that include not obtaining permits for its Jeremy Ranch Elementary School expansion.

A plan to expand Jeremy Ranch Elementary School has been years in the making. That took a big step forward when Summit County voters approved a $79 million bond last year to help pay for facilities upgrades at several campuses in the school district.

More than $13 million of that was designated for Jeremy Ranch, to add preschool facilities and community space to the campus. The district broke ground this spring on the project.

But construction was halted last week when Summit County issued a notice of violation and a stop work order to the district. Workers were sent home and equipment is now sitting idle.

According to Summit County Community Development Director Pat Putt, construction isn’t likely to resume until end of August or beginning of September at the earliest.

That’s because one of the violations is a failure to obtain a conditional use permit, which requires getting on the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission’s agenda after a legally required 10-day public notice period followed by a public hearing.

Former Snyderville Basin Planning Commission Chair Thomas Cooke said Monday that the commission’s schedule is full for August and he did not know how quickly the district would be able to make it onto the calendar.

County officials declined to comment on who was responsible for seeking construction permits. According to the school district website, campus construction falls under the purview of Mike Tanner, who was hired in 2019 as the district’s first chief operating officer.

Tanner, along with other district officials and board members, did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this report.

Putt said the construction came under scrutiny when county employees noticed work underway in June, checked permit records and discovered there were none for that project.

At that point, Putt advised the district that the project was violating county and state codes. Following that, he said he met with district officials July 7th to explain what was required.

The county received a conditional use permit application from the district after that, but county documents show it was not accepted because it was incomplete.

On July 19th the county advised the district it was issuing a stop work order to take effect the following morning.

It’s unknown how the stop work order will affect the project, but delays tend to drive costs upward. Materials prices may increase, contractors and crews can be committed to other jobs, and inflation could factor in. Winter weather will also play a role in progress once construction resumes.

Putt said the county and district are meeting this week to plan how to move forward.

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Michelle, who joined KPCW in 2021, arrived in Utah in 2018 by way of Massachusetts, where the skiing was icy and the mosquitoes formidable. A former daily newspaper reporter and editor (at the Visalia Times-Delta in CA) and columnist (at The Cohasset Mariner in MA), Michelle has been a writer and editor for decades. She holds a journalism degree from CSU Fresno and has worked as a journalist, freelance writer and web content creator, reporting extensively on education and youth along with general assignment and breaking news.