Stop the construction of avalanche fences above The Colony

Stop the construction of avalanche fences above The Colony

May 5, 2021
Petition to
Signatures: 1,264Next Goal: 1,500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Casey Coleman

We are asking that Summit County please reconsider the “Low Impact Permit for the Dream Peak Avalanche Control Mitigation Fencing” that was approved by the County Planner on June 9, 2020.

The Colony was approved for two house lots on the ridge that runs from the top of the Dream Peak area of Park City Mountain Resort to the Park City/BCC ridgeline.  The road (essentially a long, shared driveway) that accesses the two lots crosses beneath a series of avalanche paths on the Park City/BCC ridgeline.  This road is potentially threatened by the runout and debris of large, historic avalanches.  The Colony was approved to build over 200 avalanche fences in four separate avalanche paths in this area to mitigate the risk to this road.

We would like Summit County to reconsider and ultimately revoke the Low Impact Permit for the following reasons:

1.      No public comment was sought for this Low Impact Permit.  Development in The Colony falls under the jurisdiction of both County Code and a Specially Planned Area (SPA) agreement between The Colony, its developers, and Summit County.  Unfortunately, both County Code and the SPA do not require public comment for Low Impact Permits.  County code Chapter 3, item 10-3-4 (E) (4) states Low Impact Permits should "not create unsightly conditions".  County code Chapter 3, item 10-3-4 (C) (2) states "In proposals where the CDD or designated planning staff member determines that potential issues may arise or additional comment is needed from the community, a public hearing on the application may be scheduled with the planning commission."  It is obvious this project will create unsightly conditions along the ridgeline and that this Low Impact Permit should never have been approved without an avenue for public comment. 

2.      The two lots serviced by this road fell under intense scrutiny about viewshed impacts before they were approved.  It’s obvious that the avalanche fencing approved in this Low Impact Permit did not have a similar analysis conducted prior to its approval. After learning about this approved permit, community members conducted a viewshed analysis on Google Earth for the fences in the avalanche path known as “Main Mac.”  The plans for the fences show they will be 3+ meters tall.  Based on this height, the viewshed analysis shows these fences will be visible year-round from most of Snyderville Basin and the Round Valley open space area.  The modeling software only has a radius of 6 miles, so it does not fully show the effects this project has on viewsheds throughout Summit County.

3.      The Colony wants to build avalanche fences because it does not want the road to ever be closed while Park City Ski Patrol performs avalanche mitigation work.    Park City Ski Patrol currently utilizes explosives to successfully mitigate these slide paths as part of routine avalanche control work.  It is important to note, that there are several other options to mitigating the avalanche hazard in this area that does not require massive avalanche fencing.  This project is not industry standard for avalanche mitigation.  Avalanche fencing is used to protect occupied building and major roadways, not what is essentially a shared driveway.  There are many other viable solutions to mitigate this hazard with far less impact on the environment and the citizens of Summit County.

4.      What kind of precedent does this set for future housing development and avalanche mitigation in Summit County and The Colony?  There is a map that shows The Colony developing a road that approaches the base of the “West Monitor” avalanche path, will this area be covered in avalanche fencing in the future with no public input?

5.      The avalanche fencing will have negative impacts on wildlife.  There have been multiple elk and other wildlife becoming trapped and dying in the avalanche fencing located on the south side of the slope at the top of the Tombstone lift.  The shear scope of the project for the Dream Peak area ensures more elk will be harmed.  

Thank you for reading and participating in this petition. It is important to so many of us to keep this pristine terrain free of unnecessary avalanche fencing. 

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Signatures: 1,264Next Goal: 1,500
Support now

Decision Makers

  • Vail Resorts
  • The Colony
  • Iron Mountain Associates LLC
  • Summit County Community Development Department