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Deer Valley Snow Park right-of-way decision moves to city council

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Parker Malatesta
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Deer Valley's base area.

A decision on whether Park City should give up a portion of Deer Valley Drive will now move to the city council. The road vacation is a crucial piece of Deer Valley Resort’s plans to redevelop its base area.

The Park City Planning Commission met Wednesday to consider one thorny piece of Deer Valley’s development plans. The commission’s decision was that the city council should figure that part out.

The commission was only looking at traffic circulation and the request to hand over a portion of Deer Valley Drive to resort owner Alterra.

Several planning commissioners emphasized Wednesday that Deer Valley did not present any alternatives to taking over the city’s road. Commission chair Laura Suesser had specifically requested other options during the last Snow Park meeting in December.

Commissioner John Kenworthy said given the sole proposal, the commission decided the best move was to hand off the decision to the city council, which has sole authority over the road.

“I think you all know that we have no jurisdiction with this regard," Kenworthy said.

"This is I think the time, we’ve been here for a year-and-a-half. We see that the applicant does not want to make other kinds of iteration of this Doe Pass option. So I feel it is certainly time to move it to city council.”

The commission said it preferred a shared mobility lane option for the resort’s transportation plan. That involves two 11-foot wide vehicle travel lanes from the Y-intersection around the Deer Valley Loop. It also includes another 11-foot wide lane that could be used as a bike lane for most of the year, but repurposed for public transit on peak traffic days.

Doe Pass Road would become the main entryway to the base area and new transit hub.

Suesser offered a solution for lessening traffic congestion on Park City streets.

“One suggestion that I have is that we have a condition of approval that Deer Valley negotiates an agreement with Deer Crest for rerouting vehicles from Snow Park directly to and from US-40,” Suesser said. “That would help mitigate the impact of the overall development.”

Commissioner John Kenworthy said US-40 is the answer for Deer Valley, given the growth in Wasatch County. He expressed uneasiness over Suesser’s proposal.

“The enemy so much isn’t what’s left to develop here in Park City,” Kenworthy said. “The enemy is growth outside. We’re the number one growing state in the United States. We’re the number one county growing out there. That growth number is huge, and of course, who do you want to sell to? You want to sell your passes to that growth number.”

Deer Valley’s plan to deal with that growth is to redesign the base area with the top priority being public transit.

Commissioners said they liked that idea, but believed more direct bus routes to the Snow Park base are needed for it to truly work. Commissioner John Frontero said Deer Valley can solve that with funding.

“If we can solve this with money - which seems to be the answer - then let’s solve it," Frontero said.

"It can’t be that difficult. Let’s cut some checks, buy some electric buses, and get people where they need to get to, directly. But at the moment, this application doesn’t have that. And that is troubling to me.”

Solamere resident Bob Watson’s comments Wednesday reflected what many Deer Valley neighbors have expressed about the project.

“We want to see this built,” Watson said. “But we don’t want to see this built as it’s being presented.”

Deer Valley has rights with the city dating back to the 1970s to develop the Snow Park lot. However, those rights do not include the city giving up a portion of Deer Valley Drive.

City planner Alex Ananth said the right-of-way vacation decision could come before the city council next month. On that timeline, the full project would return to the planning commission in March.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.