The planned upgrades at Park City Mountain Resort will remain in limbo for the foreseeable future. After a Judge denied Vail’s appeal this week, Vail Resorts will weigh whether to submit new permit applications that may require resort operators to disclose lift capacity and skier counts or appeal again to a higher court to try and protect its Comfortable Carrying Capacity (CCC) numbers and other metrics.

Back in 2022, Vail Resorts planned two major lift upgrades at Park City Mountain Resort. These two projects would have replaced the Silverlode chairlift with an eight-pack and the Eagle & Eaglet chairlift with a high-speed six-pack chairlift. Four locals decided to appeal the city planning director’s approval of the lifts due to the belief that the Utah ski resort was consistently above its CCC. An appeal by four locals was granted by the Park City Planning Commission after pointing out that PCMR’s new parking plan was insufficient, and that the new Eagle chairlift proposal was improperly aligned compared to the 1998 development agreement with Park City Municipal, among other crowding concerns.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that on Monday, Utah Third District Court Judge Richard Mrazik upheld the local’s appeal, stating that a permitting authority like the Planning Commission has the right to verify planning metrics such as Comfortable Carrying Capacity. Vail Resorts, which has claimed that its CCC numbers are proprietary, can appeal to a Utah state appellate court, which seems likely.

Image Credit: Park City Mountain Resort

Following the ruling, the four local appellants released the following statement:

“We are pleased the court upholds the conclusions of Park City’s Planning Commission and affirms the right of a permitting authority to verify a ski resort’s operation in accordance with code and law. Visitors, employees, and surrounding communities depend on transparency and disclosure to assure safety and function at all Vail Resorts properties. We hope Vail Resorts and Park City Mountain accept Judge Mrazik’s ruling and also accept the invitation extended by Park City Municipal in 2022 to apply for new permits in accordance with code and capacity considerations.”

Clayton Scrivner from Park City Municipal said the following regarding the litigation’s latest development:

“Though disagreements in our community can be contentious at times, our system is designed to resolve these matters deliberately as is the case today. We appreciate the Court recognized the diligence of our Planning Commission, whose complex work often goes underappreciated.”

Sara Huey, who’s a spokesperson for Park City Mountain Resort, released the following statement:

“We appreciate the District Court’s time and consideration of our appeal. We continue to be disappointed in the Park City Planning Commission’s decision to revoke the permit for these lift upgrades, but remain committed to investing in the guest experience at Park City Mountain.”

This decision doesn’t factor into the proposed Sunrise Gondola over at the Canyons Village, which goes under a different approval process via Summit County. In addition, it was announced yesterday that a new parking garage could replace the current parking setup in the Canyons Village, which would ease the traffic flow. For the Park City side of the mountain, Vail Resorts is still allowed to go for conditional-use permits from Park City Municipal.

The process to build the Sunrise Gondola project at the Canyons.

In terms of my personal views on this, I’m pretty neutral. I lived out in Utah for a couple of years, so I witnessed what has become a crowded experience in the town of Park City, which has changed quite a bit since it hosted the Olympics in 2002. I would like to see Eagle, Eaglet, and Silverlode chairlifts replaced soon, but I get the four locals’ hesitation on what it could mean for traffic around Park City.

Getting to the mountains in Park City is a pain in the ass, with the Canyons Village being the easiest to reach. Incentivizing people to go to the Mountain Village side because of the new lifts compared to the Canyons seems counterintuitive. The Sunrise replacement should be the priority for them at the moment, which seems like Vail Resorts is now aiming for. In addition, I’d also like to see Vail Resorts update the 1998 development plan (which is used for the PC side) to reflect better how the two ski resorts have changed since merging.

Ultimately, Utah is rapidly changing despite its very noticeable environmental challenges, and pumping the brakes every once in a while doesn’t hurt.

Click here for more information about the arguments being made by Vail Resorts, Park City Municipal, and the locals over these proposed new lifts.

Image Credits: Park City Mountain Resort, Ian Wood

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