Tram truths…
Jan 15, 2009 | 830 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Several letters to the T-I critical of Grand County Planning and Zoning process and decisions have recited supposed facts about the “Moab Mining and Tram Company” tramway.

In 1999, Mr. Jewett and his partner came before the Grand County Planning and Zoning Commission for approval of their “Moab Scenic Tram” project. The parcel is zoned Highway Commercial on its lower end and Range and Grazing on its high end. The Moab Scenic Tramway on Kane Creek Road had previously been approved with a set of conditions by the Moab City Council. P&Z applied the constitutional principle of Equal Protection Under the Law by imposing equivalent conditions on this tramway in county jurisdiction.

Condition 4 of approval required Jewett to post a seven-year bond to provide Grand County with the funds to dismantle the tram and upper-level structures in the event the tramway failed and was abandoned. On Aug. 4, 1999, Mr. Jewett asked me what the bond had to dismantle. I said that only above-ground structures had to be removed, consistent with the city of Moab’s requirements. I estimated an adequate bond to be about $60,000.

After the tramway was built, Mr. Jewett came to get his business license. P&Z staff asked for the bond to be posted, per the conditional use permit’s approval condition No. 4. For unknown reasons, Jewett insisted we wanted a restoration to National Park Service standards costing over a million dollars, that our bonding requirement was arbitrary and unreasonable, and he refused to negotiate the much lower bond we expected. He sued the county for damages due to our alleged unreasonableness keeping him from opening for business.

After legal maneuvering, the county attorney calculated it would be cheaper to the taxpayer to settle with Mr. Jewett than continue. The settlement agreement provided that Grand County would pay Mr. Jewett $200,000 while Mr. Jewett would post a $60,000 reclamation bond, obtain his business license and commence operations. To date Mr. Jewett has not posted a bond or obtained a business license, so the county hasn’t paid him anything, much less $2 million, as some have claimed.

I always suspected this “world’s shortest tramway to nowhere” was a “camel’s nose under the tent” deal to get the upper land rezoned for a high-end restaurant or resort, as you find at the top of other tramways Mr. Jewett has built in the West. Suspicions are not grounds for denial.

—Richard Lance Christie

Moab

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.