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Park City’s decision in Deer Valley Lift 7 has been appealed by Bransford Land Co.

The city never responded to Bransford Land Co.’s offer. to donate 40 acres as an easement

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Skiers in Deer Valley on Thursday, April 11, 2024. Alterra Mountain Resorts, which owns Deer Valley, plans to add 3,700 acres of skiable terrain.

In one of the most ambitious expansions ever undertaken by a ski area, Deer Valley Resort plans to install 10 additional lifts by the 2025-2026 season, and that’s just for Phase 1 of the Expanded Excellence project.

However, one of those lifts appears to be a cut in the resort’s skis, so to speak, threatening to at least partially slow the progress of the expansion.

Nearly a month after Deer Valley first requested a conditional use permit to install ‘Lift 7’ and during the proposal’s second consideration by the Park City Planning Commission, the commission approved the resort’s plan during its meeting of May 22 – albeit with almost 30 conditions. This week the Bransford Land Co. however, appealed the planning committee’s decision, leaving the lift permit in limbo once again.

A three-person panel will review the appeal request, which The Tribune obtained through a public records request. It is unclear whether that will happen at the panel’s meeting on June 17, for which no agenda has been set, or on another date.

As proposed, the 2,600-foot Lift 7 (its temporary name) will be a six-person bubble lift that will take skiers to 4.52 miles of mostly beginner terrain between the peaks of Bald Mountain and Flagstaff Mountain. The lift will cross at least 13 acres of land that the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has deemed “critical” habitat for at least eight species. Construction of the 2,000-meter-long lower terminal and the 13,543-meter-long seat storage facility would also require clear-cutting.

Although the planning commission unanimously approved the elevator permit at its May 22 meeting, it attached 29 conditions to its decision. Deer Valley will have to adhere to those conditions to obtain building permits.

The conditions include a requirement that 275 acres of vacant land elsewhere in Deer Valley be set aside to offset the land that will be disrupted. Clearcutting can’t begin this summer until eagles and other birds in the area have left their nests for the season. In addition, the resort will have to adhere to the recommendations of a biologist who will assess the area after the snow disappears. That biologist is contracted by Deer Valley.

“The (permit) is highly dependent on future confirmation of current conditions,” wrote Anne Bransford, one of the trustees of Bransford Land Co., in her petition to appeal, “including professional assessments and reports for which no timeline, benchmarks, demand for independent analyses, sanctions or third-party alternatives were conditional as part of the approval.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Skiers in Deer Valley look out at part of the area that will soon be added to their ski terrain on Thursday, April 4, 2024.

Bransford Land Co. owns some of the land beneath the resort, including the Trump and Ontario runs adjacent to the planned location of Lift 7. Anne Bransford, Mary Bransford Leader and Carolyn Bransford MacDonald – the sisters who owned the land before they it into a trust – have said they support the expansion but believe their country would be a better vessel for Lift 7. Through numerous written and personal statements to the committee, they have argued that following natural drainage through their property the drainage of Lift 7 softer, wider and safer. According to them, it would also necessitate the removal of fewer trees and reduce the impact on nature.

Bransford Land Co. hired Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners to evaluate their land as an option for Lift 7. According to an April 24 letter to the commission, it concluded that using the Bransford land would have “less risk management, less excavation and a much better skier experience.”

“In support of (sic) a safer and less destructive plan for a Lift 7 Pod,” the petition states, “BLC proposed using our adjacent land to realign (Deer Valley) the lift and ski slopes and lower the lift terminal, limit disturbance to vegetation and wildlife, and better comply with code and governance agreements.”

At the urging of commissioners, Deer Valley representatives said the chosen alignment is the best available.

Todd Bennett, president and chief operations officer of the resort, told the committee April 24 that the Bransford land is not an option because it is subject to litigation. Mayflower LLC, owned by Deer Valley’s partner Extell, has acquired Bransford Land Co. sued over a priority dispute. Court documents show the land proposed for Lift 7 is not part of the lawsuit.

The hearings in this case begin on June 18.

The staff report submitted to the planning commission on May 22 shows that a zoning ordinance would prohibit the development of an elevator on part of the Bransford Land Co. property. prohibits. That information was provided after commissioners asked about alternative alignments at their April 24 meeting. However, the ordinance allows ski development on the land.

Anne Bransford, the trust’s chair, said prior to filing the appeal that the company’s intent is not to prevent Lift 7 from being installed, but rather to help Deer Valley create the best possible experience while to preserve the country. She said Bransford Land Co. offered to donate the land in question to the city as part of an 40-acre easement. Bransford said she hand-delivered a term sheet to Mayor Nann Worel’s office last June — before Deer Valley announced the expansion. She has included the text of the letter in the petition.

The city confirmed through spokesman Clayton Scrivner that it has received the offer.

“An informal proposal was presented to the city in 2023, but those discussions never materialized,” Scrivner said in a text to the Tribune. “The offer was never rejected.”

According to a timeline included with the petition, Extell offered to buy 40 acres of land from the Bransfords in 2017 for $2 million. That offer was rejected.

The nine other lifts that make up Phase 1 of Deer Valley’s Expanded Excellence site are located in Wasatch County. They fall under the jurisdiction of the Military Installation Development Authority, which partnered with Extell to acquire the land for the area and developed it under the name Mayflower Resort before leasing it to Deer Valley. MIDA has already approved these lifts.

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