Friday, March 16, 2012

Park City goes Hollywood

It's a very long, very ugly story about property rights, zoning, self righteous state representatives and senators and campaign contributions (bribes), but Park City is getting a movie studio complex.  More accurately, Park City is getting a movie studio shoved down its throat. The short version:

There's a guy who owns some property just outside of Park City, at the intersection of 248 and 40, over by the new hospital.  The land was zoned for some minimal development, but he wanted to build a lot more.  Meanwhile, the Utah government wanted to encourage the movie industry to expand in the state.  So the landowner went out and found Raleigh Studios who wanted to build a new studio. To make this work, all you need is the wonderful state government threatening to pass legislation that completely ignores and overrides the local zoning.

Rather than getting absolutely no say in the matter, Park City and Summit County succumbed and are allowing the zoning changes.  Of course, this isn't just a studio building.  It's a studio, hotel and retail space.  Park City really needs another hotel?

I went out when the planning commission and city council did a site visit with the builder.  I think they will end up building something decent, but because of all the legal bullshit that went on, the builder isn't having to follow the same rules for set backs, open space, trails and density that everyone else in Park City does. Must be nice to be so special.
Several lessons:
  • It's not what you know, it's who you make campaign contributions to.  Again, I would prefer to be honest and just call them bribes.  If you want something unusual, start bribing the politicians early and often.
  • As much as the Utah government talks about keeping the federal government out of the way and making decisions locally, they only mean that when they get to have their way.  They are more than happy to override local zoning. "Make decisions locally, unless you aren't deciding the same thing I would."
Given that it's going to happen, I hope they do it well and make it successful. It could be a nice addition to the city, but the way it was done leaves everyone with bitter feelings about the whole deal.

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