Plan goes down in flames

By Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

The Park City Fire District's plans to construct a five-story training facility near Kimball Junction were derailed last week by the Summit County Board of Adjustment (BOA).
"It struck me as a fairly odd thing to put right on the edge of I-80 where if you had flames leaping out of a fifth-story building everybody on I-80 would slam on their brakes to watch it," BOA member Tom Clyde said.

West Side firefighters must currently travel to Salt Lake for most training, fire district officials say.

They proposed constructing a 54-foot building behind the Burns Fire Station on Bitner Road, which exceeded the Snyderville Basin Development Code height restrictions by 22 feet.

BOA chairman Ron Perry says he is confident western Summit County residents would support last week's denial.

"I'll bet you $100 I know which way that thing's going to fall," Perry said. "We basically shot them down I think the Fire District thought it was a done deal."

The Summit County Board of Adjustment rejected a request last week from the Park City Fire District to construct a 54-foot training facility near Kimball Junction. Photo by Scott Sine/Park Record

He'd rather firefighters continue to traveling for training on the public's dime than have another multi-story building built at Kimball Junction.

"You want to parallel that with the (Basin) Field House?" Perry asked, adding that he would have scrutinized that structure more had he known it'd become such an eyesore. "I probably would have had some real heartburn over how it's been intruding on the view corridor."

Perry is also a voting board member in the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District, the group that operates the public recreation center at the junction.

"Put it in an industrial place," Perry advised the Fire District during an interview last week. "This is not the place for it."

He said he would have been more comfortable approving a height variance in the single digits. Zoning ordinances in the Snyderville Basin restrict building heights to 32 feet.

"The planning staff had recommended it," Perry said.

But with approval of the conditional use permit for the project pending before the Summit County Commission, the BOA denial forces the Fire District to either redesign or scrap the proposal.

Or firefighters could fight the decision in Third District Court, Summit County planner Michele Devaney said.

"[Devaney] said they weren't too pleased because they put a lot of work into this," Perry said.

The decision is consistent with how the BOA has enforced height restrictions in the past, he added.

"We made somebody in Jeremy Ranch cut their roof line down," Perry said.

And reasons for granting a height variance are clearly defined in the code, said Clyde.

"I didn't feel like they did a very good job justifying why they needed to build one here," he said. "The Fire District's site doesn't have a typical hardship with it that would justify a height variance. They just wanted to build something that doesn't fit the zone."

Firefighters claim the high-rise training is necessary for battling fires in hotels on the West Side, Clyde said, adding that several neighbors opposed the complex.

"If they wanted to build a three-story training facility they could," he adds.

Clyde advised the Fire District to convince the Summit County Commission to amend zoning ordinances to allow for taller public-safety facilities.

The fire department needs at least four stories to make the building worthwhile, Assistant Park City Fire Chief Scott Adams said.

"We're not going to take anybody to court," Adams said. "We're just flabbergasted by the decision."