Last spring, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort was all set to open up a mountain coaster to attract more visitors to Little Cottonwood Canyon during the off-season, but the plans were derailed by Salt Lake County officials.
Recent revisions to the county’s ordinance on land uses in canyons and foothills have put the project back on track, according to news reports. Resort owners can now resubmit for a permit to build the 3,000-foot track, this time located on private land next to the Peruvian Express chairlift. Previously, it had been planned for across the road on Mount Superior, which is public land, with a bridge across State Road 210 into the village center.
Snowbird executive Dave Fields said the compromise addresses his resort’s desire to clarify that its existing summer uses, from mountain-bike riding to the Tour of Utah bicycle race, are legal operations. It also would allow Snowbird to proceed with plans for the mountain coaster, but within the resort’s existing operation south of Little Cottonwood Canyon road.
The revisions to the ordinance were aimed primarily to better define development guidelines for the canyons east of Salt Lake City. One revision will allow the county to grant waivers for construction on slopes greater than 50 percent, a provision that would open up more land for resort development.
Opponents also expressed concerns that the revisions would further relieve political pressure on a proposed SkiLink gondola that would run from Solitude Mountain in Big Cottonwood Canyon over the divide to Canyons Resort, in Park City. They also say it would be a prelude for wider development of lifts to link all seven Wasatch Mountain resorts in the future.
County officials maintain that environmental protections will remain in place despite the potential for expanded development for summertime activities.
To read the county code, click here.