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Planning commission asks Deer Valley for more Snow Park alternatives

A rendering of Deer Valley's proposed Snow Park village.
Deer Valley Resort
A rendering of Deer Valley's proposed Snow Park village.

As part of its plans for a massive redevelopment of the area where people now park, Deer Valley wants Park City Municipal to give it a road.

The Park City Planning Commission spent three hours talking through the transportation aspects of Deer Valley’s Snow Park redevelopment plan and hearing from skeptical residents.

As part of its plans for a massive redevelopment of the area where people now park, Deer Valley wants Park City Municipal to give it a road. The resort says that road is crucial to its designs.

But more than a few residents near the proposed development are asking the city not to grant the request. And Park City Planning Commissioners suggested Deer Valley come up with some alternatives.

Residents turned out in droves for the planning commission meeting, which was held in a larger venue in Prospector to accommodate crowds. About 100 people showed up and another 150 watched the proceedings on Zoom.

The meeting was a special work session called to tackle just the transportation element of the project. The commission did not take any action.

Dozens of residents spoke Monday night. Several supported Deer Valley’s plans, but many more voiced concerns about increased traffic. They also called for more communication between residents and the resort, and questioned the public transit aspect of Alterra’s plan.

Deer Valley wants to create a ski-in ski-out village with condos, boutique hotels and restaurants where over 1,000 day skier parking stalls are now located across from the Snow Park Lodge.

The resort is asking Park City to vacate the right of way on a portion of Deer Valley Drive. In exchange, the city would receive Doe Pass Road, which would become the new main entranceway to the base area. A stoplight would go up at the “Y” intersection that separates Deer Valley Drive.

The Carpenter Express and Silver Lake Express lifts would be pulled into the main village to increase access. Silver Lake Express would turn into a gondola, and would run outside of resort operating hours.

Deer Valley has said the design of its new village is based on the city’s vision of increasing public transit use. A problem several people pointed out Monday is that less than 10% of Deer Valley’s visitors use buses, and they don’t expect that to increase drastically anytime soon.

Carol Chenevert of Deer Lake Village has for years used a private shuttle service to get from her home to the slopes.

“The transit hub is really a nice idea, but there isn’t access to transit for most of us that live in lower Deer Valley," Chenevert said.

"We can’t take a bus unless we walk a mile or two miles. So the transit hub is not as important of a piece to us. So as a resident of the community, I don’t see the advantage.”

A traffic analysis by a consultant on behalf of Deer Valley shows that roughly 75% of resort traffic comes from Kimball Junction, the Jeremy Ranch area, and the Wasatch Front. That report also showed that daily visits to Deer Valley would increase by more than 220 cars as a result of the new development.

Oaks resident Wes Richards said the resort’s transportation plan needs to look five miles out.

“I left my house at 4:30 today, to come to this meeting. 2.2 miles. I got here at 5:20," Richards said.

"We can have 10 exit points coming out of your resort, and they hit pinch points — Deer Valley Drive. We come down through the circle, we go down to Bonanza, and in our infinite wisdom, we put in huge planters and bike lanes and everything else and we have one lane in each direction.”

The resort is requesting a 20% reduction in parking. However, it has said it would construct the amount of spots required by code if the commission deems it necessary.

Deer Valley presented results from their own survey of about 500 Summit County residents. 58% said they support the Snow Park plan as presented. The poll had a 4.4% margin of error.

At the end of the meeting, commission chair Laura Suesser pressed Deer Valley on whether it had any other options for the development.

“The alternatives that have been presented have all been sort of variations on the same," Suesser said. "And it has always assumed that the city will vacate the southern right of way. And I do want to understand what the back up plan is, or if there is one.”

Deer Valley Land Use Counsel Wade Budge emphasized that the right of way vacation is crucial to the new village design. He said the resort has exhaustively looked at other options.

Commissioner John Frontero called for the resort to get more creative, saying the current proposal feels one-sided and favors Deer Valley.

“I’d like you to consider an alternative to not sending Doe Pass Road our way," Frontero said.

"So that could include shuttles to the residents in lower Deer Valley. Maybe you put a dozen shuttle stops on some of the streets throughout some of those roads, so those folks can walk 300 yards and get to a shuttle and get to your resort. Cause I’ve heard a lot of comments that folks can’t get to the bus stops.”

The city council has final say on the right of way. The planning commission will eventually forward a positive or negative recommendation to the council specifically on whether the right of way should be vacated.

The next work session on the project is set for Jan. 18.

Corrected: December 21, 2022 at 12:54 PM MST
A previous version of this article noted that the new development would bring an increase of 2,200 trips to Deer Valley. It was a typo, and the true estimate is 220 trips.