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No decision on PCMR lift upgrades after marathon planning commission meeting

PCMR hopes to upgrade a few of its chairlifts ahead of next winter.

The Park City Planning Commission did not come to a decision on the fate of lift upgrades at Park City Mountain Resort Wednesday night, but will take up the issue once again next week.

After four hours of testimony, questions, more testimony, and more questions, the Park City Planning Commission ultimately decided to delay voting on the appeal of Park City Mountain Resort’s plans to upgrade some of its chairlifts on Wednesday night.

The commissioners were deciding whether to uphold or deny an appeal filed by four Park City residents of an administrative approval for lift upgrades at PCMR.

The resort is looking to replace its Silverlode chair with an eight-pack lift and make the Eagle and Eaglet Lifts one six-person chair. The resort has said that will reduce crowding by moving more people to the top of the mountain faster than before, but critics see it another way.

The appellants made the argument that the resort’s comfortable carrying capacity, or CCC, is exceeded by upgrading the lifts, which violates the development agreement, thereby preventing the lift upgrades from getting administrative approval instead of a vote by the planning commission. A resort’s CCC is the ideal number of guests accommodated at any one time.

One of the appellants, Angela Moschetta, made her case to the planning commission.

“The miscalculated and already exceeded CCCs confirm absolutely that this application violated the [mountain upgrade plan], and therefore the [development agreement], and therefore violated the [land management code], and therefore never met conditions for administrative review," she said. "On this basis alone, our appeal must be upheld and the decision of the planning director overturned.”

The resort presented its own CCC numbers, which were different from the appellant’s calculations. PCMR also had two outside consultants speak to their case.

Vail Resorts Vice President and former PCMR Chief Operating Officer Mike Goar countered Moschetta’s assertions.

“The appellants have the burden of proof and they’ve not presented experts, facts, we have," he said. "Two experts on CCC, mountain planning. We’ve worked through this in great detail. Lastly, the planning director’s decision should be upheld on appeal if it is supported by substantial evidence on the record, which is what we presented originally.”

The back and forth between the appellants, the resort, and planning commissioners was agitated at times, with both sides trying to passionately plead their case.

Goar also suggested separating the upgrades, with the Silverlode and Eagle lifts being considered as different requests. He worried that further delays could effectively end the hopes of starting construction on any upgrades ahead of next winter. Commissioners said no.

Ultimately, a majority of commissioners could not get past the discrepancy in CCC numbers between the two parties. Commissioner Laura Suesser and John Kenworthy also expressed a desire to see more details on the resort’s paid parking and traffic plans tied to the lift upgrades before making a decision.

When it was clear the commission was not going to come to a decision before the night ended, Chair John Phillips asked his colleagues to motion for a continuance.

“I honestly take a lot of responsibility for where we’re at tonight, I don’t know how this happened," said Phillips. "I always come in thinking that I can manage better, and I feel like I’ve let everyone down and we’re here at 9:30, to be honest with you. So I think we just need to get a motion from the commissioners at this point. I don’t think we’re going to resolve it, respectfully.” 

The planning commission voted unanimously to revisit the appeal next Wednesday, June 15.

Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.