Panel to decide on Matthew Prince’s mansion as national interest peaks

“In many ways, this is a conflict between the Park City community and the recent influx of extremely wealthy newcomers...”

PARK CITY, Utah – National and international media outlets have picked up the story of Utah’s richest man, Park City resident Matthew Prince, the mansion he wants to build on Treasure Hill in Old Town and the battle that has been playing out here over whether or not he will be allowed to build it. The billionaire has become known for suing his neighbors for their menacing dogs, using a lobbyist and high-powered lawyers to forge his way through state and local building regulations as well as purchasing a newspaper in Park City, the Park Record.

Don Rogers, Editor of the Park Record, and employed by Prince, wrote in a recent editorial that “Coverage of the house and the feud between the ski town titans has been described with varying degrees of breathless inaccuracy, innuendo and incompleteness by the larger press having fun, Bloomberg the most knowingly adrift. It all has the feel of middle school, entertainment like “Mean Girls.”

Recent national headlines about Matthew Prince’s home include:

Saucy headlines aside this has become a pivotal decision, which many locals have said is about the very bedrock of the Park City community – the struggle between community vs. change – and it will be at the forefront tomorrow when the city’s 3-member appeal panel will decide whether or not Matthew Prince will get his ‘family’ dream home on Treasure Hill.

Neighbors and Parkites, who formally appealed Prince’s 130-foot-long, four-and-a-half-story-high structure, made clear their fear that if Park City, under pressure, grants one set of rules for billionaires and another set for the rest of the community, a perilous precedent would be set.

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, during the planning commissions Feb meeting.

Lewis said “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 told the Planning Commission,  “You are the gatekeepers. You know, we all live with the consequences of our actions. Park City lives with the consequences of your actions.”

The Planning Commission later voted 4-3, with Sarah Hall, the Park City Planning Commission Board Chair, breaking the deadlock on two votes to conditionally approve the necessary permits for the Prince project.

Susan Fredston-Hermann and her husband Eric Hermann, neighbors of Prince, have faced two civil lawsuits from Prince, in recent weeks following a group of eight, including Hermann and Fredston-Hermann, who have appealed the project.

“In many ways, this is a conflict between the Park City community and the recent influx of extremely wealthy newcomers,” Susan Fredston-Hermann, wrote in an email to TownLift.

Town officials say they have no comment on the subject beyond the Planning Commission’s Final Action Letter, dated 2/21, which they said “speaks for itself.” The letter states that good cause exists to approve the Amended Plat and Conditional Use Permits as the applications meet the standards and requirements of the Land Management Code in context of the Sweeney Properties MPD, not the Historic Residential (HR) one zoning that other homeowners on the street claim they had to comply with.

“While we, as immediate neighbors, are the face of the community and are bearing the brunt of Prince’s retaliation for the appeal, all members of Old Town are neighbors of the proposed mansion, which will loom over Old Town, glowing at night and reflecting the morning sun each day,” Fredston-Hermann said.

Eric Hermann with his two dogs, Mocha and Sasha. Matthew Prince has filed two civil lawsuits against Hermann, his neighbor, including one for his “menacing” dogs. Photo: TownLift

A short timeline of events related to the upcoming appeal panel review

In February, the Park City Planning Commission gave preliminary approval to the Prince’s plans to demolish two houses on King Road and build an 11,000-square-foot new home under the pretense they would be subject to conditions and a design review.

The conditions include that the home be limited to under 7,500 square feet, as well as outlining restrictions on lighting to limit the impact on neighbors.

The planning commission approved the proposed property by a narrow vote of 4-3. The group opposed to the project filed an appeal on March 1 seeking to reverse approval of the Prince’s home plans.

Those who have appealed the decision say the project isn’t following local development rules, and the planning commission didn’t give enough consideration to the impacts the home will have by not properly enforcing the city’s development code.

“The proposed house violates a raft of Historic District code and LMC guidelines,” Eric Hermann wrote in an email to TownLift.

Hermann also said that his access to the trail system is via a non-exclusive easement across 220 King Rd. Prince filed a civil complaint against Hermann’s dogs, Sasha and Mocha, and installed video surveillance on the trail only days after the appeal was filed.

“I get that we’re rich assholes,” Prince told the Wall Street Journal, “but at some level I’m also a father and I have to protect my daughter.”

Hermann also said Prince bought a property next to the Hermann’s and promptly, without any discussion, Prince filed a second civil suit in March, alleging an existing rock wall on the Hermann’s property encroached approximately six inches onto his.

The Princes argued that the city miscalculated, claiming that only 3,475 square feet would be used as the aboveground building footprint. They claim the new home’s total living space would amount to 7,351 feet, and the interior would be compliant at 35 feet in height.

The Park City Appeal Panel meeting will begin at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30.

Appeal panel finds issue with Planning Commission approval of Matthew Prince’s mansion

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