Split commission advances billionaire’s controversial mansion on King Road

'Your responsibility is to make sure that anyone who walks through these doors and wants to add something, or change something to our town, respects our codes, our rules, our vision. You are the gatekeepers. You know, we all live with the consequences of our actions. Park City lives with the consequences of your actions,' said Tina Lewis, a 50-year Park City resident

PARK CITY, Utah — Sarah Hall, the Park City Planning Commission Board Chair, broke the deadlock on two votes to conditionally approve the necessary permits for Matthew Prince to build his mansion on King Road in Park City. Hall said she has never seen a deadlock vote in her long tenure on the Planning Commission; she got to see two of them during the 4.5 hour marathon public hearing on the controversial 220 King Road home build application.

The proposal, which includes a new home with an 11,300 sq. ft. footprint, according to planning staff, is larger than currently permitted by local regulations and requires exceptions from long standing building codes to proceed with the project.

The planning commission voted 4 to 2 in favor of finding “good cause” to amend the plat notes. The conditional use permit and steep slope permit both fell to a deadlock 3 – 3 vote with Hall stepping in to break the tie and approve the motion to direct staff to create a final action letter for each conditional use permit that will be presented for final approval at the Feb. 21 meeting.

Key arguments during the marathon meeting included the importance of preserving Park City’s historic charm and international reputation, concerns about the scale and impact of new developments, and the need to heed caution with precedent-setting decisions in relation to future development in the community.

Ben Dahl, an immediate neighbor to Matthew Prince and former Business Partner, said, “I think the design as it relates to being inspired by the old Park City mining history, is something that is certainly an upgrade to the homes that exist there now, and from my perspective, is a really nice hat tip to the history of this town. So, from my perspective, we do not have concerns about the Prince’s building their property.”

A nuance of the 22o King Road property is that based on its location, the property is subject to both Historic Residential (HR) one zoning laws and the Sweeney Master Planning District (MPD).  Planning Commission members made the determination in the meeting that current HR one zoning initially adopted in March, 2000 would not apply to the 220 King Road property, and that the property would be subject to HR one zoning rules from the time when the Sweeney MPD was approved in the late 80’s. This is a determination the Sweeney MPD enables the Planning Commission to make.

Eric Herman, a Park City resident and immediate neighbor of Matthew Prince, said, “We built a home in old town that was approved subject to meeting LMC (Land Management Code ) and HR one rules and guidelines. We wanted more East facing windows, a larger footprint and a more contemporary look but that would have violated code. And we obtained approval and built according to the strict requirements of the HR one code.”

Herman went on to say, “The Old Town Building Code maintains Old Town’s unique character. Planning staff has determined that the proposed structure does not comply with rules and regulations regarding height, roof pitch, massing, windows style, percentage of glazing, steep slope, sensitive lands, and footprint. If these rules are discarded as they are in this application, how will the city enforce the HR one zone requirements in the future?”

Clayton Scrivner, Communications Manager for Park City Municipal confirmed with TownLift that the Planning Commission reviewed the application in the context of the other five single-family lots in the HR-1 Zoning District that are also subject to the MPD and Subdivision. Their evaluation can not simply be extended to the HR-1 district generally. Indicating this this ruling would only set precedent for those 5 lots in the subdivision.

Prince shared that he “Grew up in Park City. I appreciate precedent. I want Old Town to stay what Old Town is.”

Statutory requirement to vote

Several commissioners expressed concerns about the pressure to make a decision in the Feb. 14 meeting, feeling rushed, citing incomplete information and building options that needed more refinement. However, attorneys for the 220 King Road applicant submitted a request for Final Action within 45 days on Jan. 2, pursuant to Utah Code, thus Planning Commissioners were forced to vote on the application in the Feb. 14 meeting.

How did this project become so controversial?

The home build application made news headlines in March of 2023 for an alleged attempt to lobby state legislators to override local zoning in the legislative session.

Senate Bill 271, sponsored by Sen. Mike McKell, proposed to reduce local control over land use, particularly concerning vacation home companies and co-owned residences. An amendment related to the bill was initially intended to permit Prince to bypass city authority to expand his home.

This move sparked further outcry from local leaders, who feared it represented a direct challenge to municipal autonomy over development decisions. Although this specific amendment was ultimately voted down, the underlying bill passed.

A few weeks after failing to lobby state legislation, Matthew Prince, and wife Tatiana, announced their purchase of the Park Record, a Park City newspaper in March of 2023.

Most recently an opinion piece published in the Park Record, and written by Michelle Deininger, former Contributing Editor of TownLift and News Director at KPCW, says that Prince sent an email to KPCW pledging a generous six-figure, multi-year sponsorship. The offer came while KPCW was reporting on Prince’s efforts to lobby state legislators in March 2023. Deininger says the general manager of KPCW declined the money.

Jim Doilney, former Park City Council member shared in written public comment that, “Money should never put anyone above the law” and that, “The applicant has seemingly BOUGHT preferential treatment for his request.”

The decisions we make

Tina Lewis, a 50 year Park City resident, who served on City Council and was part of the team that wrote the land management code shared some words of wisdom with the Planning Commission during her opportunity for public comment.

“You are the stewards of park City’s fragile Historic District and the visionaries for Park City’s future. You are the protectors of Park City’s international brand that attracts visitors, businesses, organizations, events, and residents from around the globe because of the unique magic of this place. You have been elected or hired or appointed to protect that magic.” Lewis went on to say:

“Your responsibility is to make sure that anyone who walks through these doors and wants to add something, or change something to our town, respects our codes, our rules, our vision. You are the gatekeepers. You know, we all live with the consequences of our actions. Park City lives with the consequences of your actions.”

Editors Note: A clarification was made that the property will be subject to HR one zoning at the time the Sweeney MPD was adopted in the late 80’s.

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