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Park City

Resident wins appeal over outdoor sauna

Park City Municipal Corp.

The Park City Board of Adjustment Tuesday upheld the appeal of a Park Meadows resident complaining that an outdoor sauna didn’t meet city code and was given a building permit anyway.

Last year, when learning that his neighbor was building an outdoor sauna – outside of where it can legally be built based on both the subdivision’s recorded plat and CC&Rs – Bob Theobald filed a complaint with the city building department.

The city’s planning and building staff both agreed that Theobald had missed his opportunity to file the complaint and that the sauna had been built property under city code.

But after a three and a half hour meeting on Tuesday night, the members of the Board of Adjustment disagreed and upheld the appeal.

Theobald says he spent more than 500 hours researching the issue which required him to file GRAMA requests and to interview the original developer of the property. The problem he says is that the city didn’t follow its own code and misinterpreted the plat.

“The whole crux of the matter is a little dashed line on the plat,” Theobald said. “What does that dashed line mean? Staff interpreted it to mean it's just a little dashed line for the house to sit in, but anything can be built outside that house under accessory buildings in the estate zone. My interpretation and everybody that I've talked to, they were limits of disturbance. Staff misinterpreted those limits of disturbance means you can't build anything outside of those lines. The sauna is outside.”

Theobald says he understands there was a lot going on in the planning department in the last couple of years, but in no way, does that recuse planners from doing their job.

“I can understand the misinterpretation, I can understand it,” he said. “But there were avenues that could have taken place to research further. Diligence -- and I think that's where I think expedience was favored over complete diligence.”

Theobald adds that to no avail, he and his neighbor have been trying to get the attention of someone at the city to bring up these issues up and get them resolved.

“This has to be brought to somebody's attention,” Theobald said. “I found through the investigations, my discussions, that planning staff misinterprets code, they conflate codes, they create codes and apply them and may favor expedience over diligence. I can understand the decision that was made by the planning department back then I can see how they made the mistake and it's natural. I don't hold anything against them, but I found some issues in my investigation that I think that really needs to be looked at beyond this.”

Park City Planning director Gretchen Milliken told KPCW she couldn’t comment since the appeal is still pending. She said while the appeal was granted at Tuesday’s meeting, it doesn’t become final until the staff returns to the Board with the Findings of Fact.

Theobald says if the Board of Adjustment had ruled differently, it would have opened the door to seeing a lot more construction in places where it doesn’t belong, including an outdoor pickleball court that was being built 25 feet from his neighbor’s bedroom window.