© 2024 KPCW

Spencer F. Eccles Broadcast Center
PO Box 1372 | 460 Swede Alley
Park City | UT | 84060
Office: (435) 649-9004 | Studio: (435) 655-8255

Music & Artist Inquiries: music@kpcw.org
News Tips & Press Releases: news@kpcw.org
Volunteer Opportunities
General Inquiries: info@kpcw.org
Listen Like a Local Park City & Heber City Summit & Wasatch counties, Utah
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Private helipad on hold in Wasatch County as neighbors flag concerns

[STOCK IMAGE] A landowner has requested permission to keep using a helicopter pad on his rural property in northern Wasatch County near Woodland.
Aturo Parro
Adobe Stock
A landowner has requested permission to keep using a helicopter pad on his rural property in northern Wasatch County near Woodland.

A Wasatch County landowner has withdrawn a request to use a helicopter pad at his ranch. Neighbors say it’s a nuisance but a developer said they could try again if they figure out some administrative hurdles. 

Just south of Woodland, inside the Wasatch County line, one of several large ranch properties belongs to Trevor Milton, founder of the electric truck maker Nikola.

Tom Clyde is the president of Diamond Bar X Ranch, a subdivision of 1-acre lots where people live and vacation. He said helicopter landings to and from Milton’s property used to interrupt the otherwise quiet area for a couple of years, on and off.

“He tries to fly it as courteously as he can — in his approach he circles around and comes out from the national forest side — but it's still just loud,” Clyde said. “When he's using it, there's a flashing blue landing light that shines in the bedroom window all night long, and it's just not what you would expect in an area like this.”

According to Cort Lockwood, who manages Milton’s property with Magleby Development, Milton stopped the chopper rides in response to complaints. He said when neighbors showed Milton the helicopter pad wasn’t allowed in the zone, he started the process to get approval through a conditional use permit.

Last month on behalf of Milton, Lockwood went before county officials and requested to amend the county code to allow helicopter pads as a permitted accessory use in the P-160 zone, which is a preservation zone established in Wasatch County where development may be limited due to the remoteness of the property. The amendment would allow any landowner in the P-160 zone to request a permit from the county to build and use a helicopter pad.

The application lists several reasons why the county should allow landing pads on large properties that are separated from neighbors by a wide buffer zone. One reason was to increase transportation options. The application also noted allowing helicopters would “attract more affluent individuals to the area which will help bolster the local economy.”

On April 13, the Wasatch County Planning Commission made a recommendation to the county council to allow the landing pads — with a permit.

But that’s on hold for now. Milton withdrew the request shortly before the Wasatch County Council planned to review it on April 19.

Much of that came as a surprise to Clyde, who didn’t hear about the council’s scheduled review until the week of.

“If you're amending uses within a zone, everybody who has property within the P-160 zone is supposed to get notice, whether they live next door to Trevor’s property or Soldier Summit or in some other remote corner of the county," Clyde said.

The vast majority of Wasatch County land is in the P-160 zone, which covers over 650,000 acres of mostly undeveloped land but none of the densely populated areas.

County Manager Dustin Grabau said the county didn’t mail notices to P-160 residents because it wasn’t required to do so.

“What's requested here is a county-wide code amendment that would affect all of our P-160 zone, so that would be pretty significant portions of our county,” Grabau said. “I think we don't have a requirement in our code to notify everyone that all of the county-wide code is changing. That said, I think we had not considered it at the council level.”

He added that county staff and elected officials want to be in touch with the residents about issues that impact them, which can be difficult to identify. He asked residents to keep up to date with what’s happening in public meetings by checking agendas for the planning commission, council and other bodies.

“I think the best thing for the public to do is to keep an eye on our agendas, see what's coming across planning commission meetings, check what's coming from county council meetings,” Grabau said. “It's difficult for the county to know what issues the public will engage in because everything we do affects someone. And really, it's hard for the public to say that they're going to watch everything, but just if you can keep an eye out, then you can kind of get a little bit more information about what the county is doing.”

Lockwood also said Milton withdrew the code amendment application because they believed it wasn’t quite ready for approval, but they may still make the request later if they can iron out some details and gain confidence it will get approved.

Lockwood said it’s also possible Milton could eventually sell the property and they wouldn’t pursue the code amendment in that case.

Related Content