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By Andrew AdamsPARK CITY -- A plan to put a major motion picture studio and Air Force hotel in Quinn's Junction is quickly growing into a hotly contested prize fight, with accusations now surfacing of deception and bad faith dealings on the part of Park City and Summit County leaders.
Developers behind the project tell KSL Newsradio the Quinn's Junction location was placed on a list of 14 feasible sites by the community leaders, and then was publicly denounced by those same leaders as a bad option.
City and county officials were first attributed in a Mar. 31 Salt Lake Tribune article as claiming a large facility at the junction would "fly in the face of decades of planning and zoning" and would "hamper traffic along the already clogged S.R. 248."
They applauded a letter signed by Gov. Jon Huntsman and Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse, that gave guidance to Stuart Adams of the Military Installation Development Authority, following the signing of Senate Bill 216 into law. That bill gives the military zoning authority over land it controls, up to 100 acres.
In the letter, the governor and state senator say, "We want to make it clear that Quinn's Junction is not an appropriate site for the type of development heretofore discussed."
"We're very thankful for the governor and the senator's participation," Park City Mayor Dana Williams told the Tribune, acknowledging "the admonition could kill the plan."
The Air Force and developers say the size of their project is largely being misrepresented, and speculation about it has been based on an 800-room hotel, which officials at Hill Air Force Base contend was used solely as an example in a legislative hearing on Utah's Capitol Hill.
The Air Force in a statement to KSL Newsradio says the numbers do not define the project because officials have not "selected a specific site and have not established the size of the Recreation Facility."
"You would think that local government would not have placed this property on a list and given it to the Air Force if it wasn't a good location," says Todd Bay of Bay Entertainment & Media, spokesman for R3 Media.
KSL Newsradio obtained an image of the map, and Williams acknowledges it exists. On it, there is an area marked as the "Erickson Parcel." It's the current proposed site for the Quinn's Junction project.
"While it showed the Quinn's Junction parcel on there, it also was very clear that anything that would go on each of the separate parcels had its unique zoning to it," Williams said in an interview.
The mayor says his understanding of the hotel project is that the military would need 250 rooms allocated to them and the developer would need another 550 rooms to off-set that.
Those numbers, broken down to a percentage, appear correct, but developers tell KSL the idea is to build a project that is compatible with the area and is "scaled appropriately."
The Air Force and Raleigh Studios, the management company behind the studio aspect of the project, are both in the process of commencing feasibility studies.
"We have been discussing this matter with the Air Force since the city and county listed the Quinn's property as a possible location," Bay says. "They are looking at others as well."
Williams also says there are other options and locations on the table. He says the next step is to meet with the MIDA board, give them a tour of the area, and then county and city leaders will travel to San Antonio in the coming weeks to meet with the Air Force real estate division and start looking at potential models for a hotel.
Williams is expressing concern about lumping the studio plans and the Air Force hotel into the same boat. He tells KSL Newsradio the original entitlement included in legislation giving the Air Force a parcel of land in Summit County specifically talked about a lodging facility.
"There was nothing about film studios, anything else with that," Williams says. "The film studio part - we're just not sure we understand how that all fits yet, although we do have land here that is zoned for that type of purpose, too."
Williams now says city and county leaders are committed to working with studio developers and the Air Force, even possibly at Quinn's Junction.
"Depending on size, scale and scope of things, I guess that parcel could be looked at again if the size and scale is brought down substantially," Williams said.
A spokesperson says Gov. Huntsman is concerned about the size overwhelming the local landscape. She says, though, it is difficult to judge, based on hypotheticals.
"The governor obviously signed SB216, which is a vehicle to get a military resort done," spokesperson Lisa Roskelley says. "While the governor is concerned about a project size that isn't appropriate for the acreage, he hopes developers, the county and the city will be able to find a positive solution that is respectful of the community."