It's a frightening proposition for the American Diabetes Association and thousands of Wasatch Front residents who enjoy a good Halloween scare.
The Rocky Point Haunted Houses, one of the association's most profitable fund-raisers in Utah, are in danger of vanishing like a ghoul in the mist if its operators can't find two temporary locations in a hurry.The Sandy City Planning Commission is set to vote Thursday on whether to allow Rocky Point to stage its house of horrors at the same location where it terrorized the willing last year - near a residential neighborhood at 9860 S. 700 East.
The city's planning staff has recommended that the commission put the nail in Rocky Point's coffin by denying its request for a temporary use permit. The city has received complaints from about 30 area residents, and the director of the haunted houses isn't optimistic about the commission's decision.
Rocky Point is also being bitten on the neck in Ogden, where it has opened its spook-riddled mansion for 15 consecutive Octobers. The Washington Boulevard building where the house was located last year is no longer available, and no other location has been secured.
"It's somewhat of a nightmare," said Cydney Neil, who produces both haunted houses for the association's Utah affiliate. "We depend on temporary locations and because of the real estate market in Salt Lake, this is the risk we take and the challenge we face. My attitude is that it's not an option not to have these, so I have to find locations."
That may not be easy. Rocky Point was granted the Sandy location in early September last year, but this is the first time in the event's history that Rocky Point has been without a single location this late in the year.
Two weeks ago, Neil thought both locations were firm. She attended a Sandy City Planning Commission meeting to request a permit for extended hours at the former Winegar's Grocery location, and was surprised to hear the commission was not only reluctant to grant that permission but also was reconsidering its approval of the haunted house altogether.
"It's only for 23 nights," Neil said. "It's pretty sad that, even if it is an inconvenience for some of these neighbors, that they can't work with us."
Cynthia Nielson, a Sandy planner, said the haunted house is an issue because it is proposed for a neighborhood commercial zone, not a higher density commercial zone like along 9000 South. The search light, parking overflow, traffic congestion, garbage and noise generated by Rocky Point last year drew the neighbors' ire.
"We do recognize that it's a nice thing to have in this area. It gives the kids something to do," Nielson said. "It's just a matter of whether that's a compatible land use with that location and based on our experience with it last year, we really don't feel it can be accommodated."
According to Dennis Dickerson, director of development for the Diabetes Association's Utah affiliate, the haunted houses generated more than $38,000 in profits last year - about seven percent of the money the affiliate raised in 1994.
"Obviously, we're concerned because we depend on that income to help fund the programs we run here," Dickerson said. "In the absence of that, we're going to have to figure out where we're going to make up that deficit."
About 60,000 went through the two houses last year, according to Neil.