Conditional Use Application in Pinecrest

November 16, 2018

Yesterday morning, the Emigration Metro Township Planning Commission met to review a conditional use application, #30473, by Mr. John Walsh for commercial and private recreation on his property at 2348 Pinecrest Canyon Rd.

The application includes a request for a pistol range, a rifle range, parking, a picnic gazebo, zip lines, and a sledding area. A packet of information is available at:

The application has been in review by Salt Lake County Planning and Development Services for about the last year. The Emigration Metro Township Planning Commission became aware of this application two weeks ago, when they were notified by the County of the need for a meeting to consider this application.

At the Planning Commission meeting yesterday, the Emigration Canyon Community Council Chair, Steve Borst, submitted a statement on behalf of Canyon residents (read below). More than 20 Canyon residents expressed concerns including wildfire hazards, limitations of the narrow road in Upper Pinecrest, noise from the proposed firing ranges, impingement on rights of way for trails, stress on water resources, and lead hazards from discharged ammunition.

We thank the Commissioners for allowing each person to speak and for their thoughtful consideration of all comments.

The County will post the minutes and a recording of the meeting on the Public Meeting Notification website: On that page, you can click “Email Subscription” to receive future meeting notices by email.

The Planning Commission deferred a decision until more information can be obtained and all citizen’s concerns can be expressed. A Planning Commission meeting in December will be a “site visit” to the Walsh property. Information about that meeting will be posted on the Public Meeting Notification page above.

The Emigration Metro Township Planning Commission and the Salt Lake County Planning and Development will continue to receive community input. You may write a letter regarding this application and email it to Curtis Woodward at


The Emigration Canyon Community Council


November 14, 2018

Emigration Canyon Metro Township Planning Commission

Delivered By Hand

Dear Planning Commissioners,

I am writing to represent the Emigration Canyon Community Council in communicating on behalf of those Canyon residents who strongly oppose a Conditional Use approval to the plan (Application Number 30473) being developed for recreational and commercial use of property located at 2350 Pinecrest Canyon Road belonging to John Walsh.

Yesterday evening, the Emigration Canyon Community Council held its monthly meeting.  This conditional use application, and the process that has accompanied it, was an agenda item that attracted considerable and intense interest from Canyon residents.

Strong objections were voiced regarding safety of life and property as well as incompatibility of the proposed uses with the mountainous residential area around the proposed development.  These objections include, but are not limited to, the following:

Safety of Life and Property

Wildfires are a visceral concern for all canyon residents who live at this drought-stricken urban / wildland interface.  Human-triggered wildfires from accidents, automobiles, camping, cooking, construction, carelessness, fireworks, or firearms quickly burn property and homes in Utah communities every year.  This year, California wildfires have reportedly moved at rates of 80 football fields per minute in conditions that are often replicated in Emigration Canyon.  This leaves no time for residents or Mr. Walsh’s customers to evacuate, much less for response teams to mobilize to the wildfire location and to the residential neighborhoods of Pinecrest, Killyon Canyon and Emigration Oaks. The subject property is located at the end of Pinecrest Canyon Road, with no alternate evacuation route in the event of a fire at the property, and no evacuation route at all if a fire blocks the road.  There are no apparent solutions being brought forward to mitigate this already concerning situation.

Residents and visitors alike hike on trails surrounding the property (established as part of a Trails Master Plan) could be injured or worse from a fire, an accidental or intentional firearms discharge, or archery misfire.  These and other types of accidents either on the subject property or surrounding it would require mobilization of first responders.

The negative impact on property values resulting from the proposed commercial uses and the associated traffic and noise also need to be considered.  A primary reason people move into Emigration Canyon is to live in and enjoy a quiet environment.  Increased commercial traffic, not to mention the sound of gunfire, certainly brings a variety of disturbance to residential neighborhoods.  It is difficult to imagine any circumstance under which the sound of nearby gunfire or the impact of additional traffic could be adequately mitigated.

Incompatible Use

The commercial use of the subject property is incompatible with the residential nature of the surrounding properties and with the Emigration Township General Plan regarding commercial development in the Canyon.

Accessing the upper reaches of Pinecrest canyon requires navigation of a narrow, single-lane road over which cars, buses, fire trucks or emergency responders, can pass in only one direction at a time.  The use of this road for commercial purposes of any kind is incompatible with the local infrastructure.  An already challenging roadway would be certainly made worse with increased traffic of any volume.  This situation would worsen further during the winter months when clients for sledding would be attracted from outside the Canyon.  The limitations this road places on the ability of first responders to adequately fight fires or respond to other emergencies while enabling customers and residents to evacuate would be difficult to mitigate.

These and other concerns have been raised by the Emigration Canyon community and are detailed in letters to Salt Lake County Planning and Development. Examples are attached and should be reviewed in detail.  Questions about both the content of the conditional use application and the seemingly opaque process that has kept this from view of residents until now are abundant.  The Community Council is not aware of any voices of support for granting the conditional use.  We respectfully ask that Emigration Canyon Planning Commission carefully consider the clear merits of the concerns expressed by Emigration Canyon residents and their request to deny the Conditional Use application.


Steven Borst, Chairman

Emigration Canyon Community Council