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Park Record owner accused of intimidation in tense City Hall meeting over home plans

Matthew Prince, owner of The Park Record and CEO of tech company Cloudflare, speaks during a Fortune Magazine event in Deer Valley, July 2023.
Matthew Prince, owner of The Park Record and CEO of tech company Cloudflare, speaks during a Fortune Magazine event in Deer Valley, July 2023.

The conflict between Old Town neighbors was on full display during a meeting about tech billionaire Matthew Prince’s proposed home on Treasure Hill.

Prince filed two lawsuits against his neighbors, Eric Hermann and Susan Fredston-Hermann, after the couple filed an appeal with Park City to block the construction of the Cloudflare CEO’s 11,000-square-foot home.

During a public hearing Tuesday about the appeal, Eric Hermann said Prince's response was swift after they moved to challenge the home’s construction.

“Once we exercised that appeal right, Prince commenced a campaign of harassment and intimidation intended to sue us into submission,” Hermann said. “Days after we appealed he filed a lawsuit against our dogs. We’ve had Bernese Mountain dogs for 14 years and during that time not a single complaint, including from Prince, until we filed the appeal. Within weeks he spent millions to buy property next to us and filed another lawsuit, this time alleging a tiny encroachment by an old stone wall.”

Susan Fredston-Hermann claimed the intimidation campaign spread to The Park Record, which Prince purchased last year.

“As the new owner of the local paper, he has used every tool imaginable to squelch our free speech and that of anyone else opposing the project,” Fredston-Hermann said. “He has turned a once widely-respected newspaper into his personal megaphone. We believe Matthew Prince gets leverage through largess and intimidation. He has made or promised major donations to nonprofits who otherwise would have opposed his proposed mansion.”

Prince has denied making donations to benefit his home-building plans.

Fredston-Hermann also claimed Prince himself said he has the “city in his pocket,” to which Matthew and his wife Tatiana audibly scoffed.

The Hermann’s appeal, which was denied by a Park City panel Tuesday, argued Prince’s home doesn’t comply with local development rules.

When it was his time to comment, Matthew Prince chided about the size of the Hermanns' Old Town home, calling it a “compound,” and discussed his relationship with The Park Record.

“I’m saddened that people think, I mean there’s allegations that we bought the newspaper in order to be our mouthpiece,” Prince said. “I’d encourage you to talk to [the editor] Don Rogers. We don’t know what comes out in the newspaper until it gets printed the next day. We bought it because otherwise it was going to die.”

As for the dog lawsuit, a highlight in this year’s Park City Follies, this is what Prince had to say:

“I actually love dogs. I just don’t like dogs that chase my daughter and make her cry or chase my 80-year-old mom and make her feel uncomfortable walking around in her own backyard. I just ask that dogs be on leashes, which turns out is the law in Park City.” 

Not all neighbors spoke against Prince’s plans.

Jim Brabender, who lives adjacent to the Prince property, shared his support for the build.

“I provided a support letter for this project,” Brabender said. “I didn’t do it for fun, and I didn’t do it easily. I did it because the Princes earned it. They spent time with the neighbors and showed us what they were going to do.”

Ginger Tolman, who lives across the street from Brabender disagrees. She said the Princes never reached out to her.

“There was never an effort made; we’re easy to contact,” Tolman said. “But I think the reason that maybe we weren’t contacted is we are in direct line of sight... My view does matter, and my view will be impacted.”

Tolman was one of eight people who cosigned the Hermann’s appeal.

The panel denied the Hermann’s appeal but decided to send Prince’s home proposal back to the Park City Planning Commission for zoning clarifications. Until then, the Prince family won’t be able to break ground.