The owners of Solitude Ski Resort will have to wait at least two weeks to see if the Salt Lake County Planning Commission will give them approval to begin developing the resort, according to the 10-year Solitude master plan.
The 1987 master plan calls for existing base facilities to be torn down and for construction of a new resort center, building hundreds of overnight lodging units and the reorientation of ski trails with four new lifts.In a Tuesday presentation, principal Solitude owner Gary DeSeelhorst asked the planning commission to approve an amendment to the resort's site plan and announced his intention to seek further amendments to the Solitude site plan pending U.S. Forest Service approval.
The planning commission delayed a ruling on the site plan request for two weeks and continued until February a separate request for rezoning of property at the Big Cottonwood Canyon ski area.
At the heart of the requests is a proposed 320-unit overnight lodging development at Solitude, given preliminary approval by the county in 1982. The issue is complicated by overlapping county and Forest Service jurisdictions over land use at the resort.
DeSeelhorst is now proposing to scale back lodging development to 280 units in five buildings. Final approval of that proposed development is conditioned on construction of a new sewer line through the canyon to handle the increased wastewater disposal demands.
The Forest Service in August gave its approval for construction of the sewer line, and DeSeel-horst needs the planning commission's approval of the amended site plan so he can secure the needed funding to construct the line.
DeSeelhorst told the commission the site plan proposal, which shows all five lodging buildings located on private land, is only his second choice for developing the resort. The site plan DeSeel-horst favors would place some of the lodging buildings further from the main road on Forest Service land.
While that would be more visually attractive, it requires Forest Service approval - which is expected to take several months. In the interim, De-Seelhost wants the planning commission to approve the proposed site plan amendment to get the ball rolling on financing for sewer line construction.
When the Forest Service approves building the lodging structures on its land, he will seek commission approval for an amended site plan showing that configuration and for rezoning of some land to accommodate the lodging development.
By scaling back the number of proposed lodging units, development can occur in smaller phases, DeSeelhorst said. No other changes to the resort master plan will be made. Solitude will not expand its boundaries beyond those in the 1985 Forest Service plan, will not enlarge parking lots and will not ask for approval of more lodging units, he pledged.
The intent of the master plan is to develop a lift and ski trail system and base facilities that will broaden Solitude's appeal to skiers and increase its skier capacity to avoid crowding during peak use periods, DeSeelhorst said.
There was no real opposition to the Solitude proposals, although several people asked the commission to carefully consider the proposals before making any decisions.
Dick Knudsen, a private property owner at Solitude, said he supports the development concepts, but he worried that new buildings could spoil the scenic view now enjoyed by cabin owners, and thus reduce property values.
Representatives of some environmental groups said it would be inappropriate for the commission to make decisions affecting Solitude until the county's Wasatch Canyons master plan is finalized earlier next year.