Solitude Ski Resort owners Tuesday received preliminary approval from the Salt Lake County Planning Commission to reduce the size of a planned overnight lodging complex from 320 to 280 units.
But Solitude principal owner Gary DeSeelhorst expressed frustration over a planning commission order for a one-month delay on rezoning applications that would allow development of the lodging complex.Planning commissioners approved a separate rezoning application for a five-acre tract that allows Solitude to begin developing new base facilities called for by a 1987 Solitude master plan.
But commission members said they weren't prepared Tuesday to deal with the application to rezone 28 acres for the planned overnight lodging development at the Big Cottonwood Canyon resort.
Some of the lodging units would be built on U.S. Forest Service property, and planning commissioners said a jurisdictional question - can the county give approval for developments on federal land - prompted them to delay the matter until Jan. 10 to give county planners more time to study the issue.
"It's another example of the county failing to make a decision, failing to understand its role of providing planning direction," DeSeelhorst said of the delay. "The Forest Service basically asked the county to give some direction, but the county has refused to address the issue. The jurisdictional issue is between the county and the Forest Service. It's not our fight."
DeSeelhorst requested and received an amendment to a conditional use permit, allowing a reduction in the number of planned lodging units. By putting fewer units in five buildings, instead of the four buildings originally planned, Solitude can be developed in smaller phases.
But county officials were split over how the planning commission should handle the rezoning request.
County planners had recommended the planning commission delay a rezoning decision on the 28 acres for six months, to give county commissioners time to review and adopt the Wasatch Canyon Master Plan, now under consideration.
Approving the Solitude request before adopting the master plan would demonstrate a lack of good faith by the county in the master plan process, planners said.
The county attorney's office recommended the planning commission approve the rezone request as if it had unquestioned jurisdiction. The one-month delay was a compromise suggested by commission members.
Although the delay is not necessarily detrimental to development plans for the ski area, it is frustrating after six years spent trying to bring Solitude development plans to fruition, DeSeelhorst said.
Solitude will now apply for a county building permit so development of the approved base facilities can begin.
The Solitude master plan calls for existing base facilities to be torn down and replaced by a new resort center at the base, the development of overnight lodging units, the reorientation of ski trails on the mountain and new lifts.
DeSeelhorst said the changes will broaden Solitude's appeal and increase skier capacity to avoid overcrowding during peak use days.