After asking developers to make small changes, the Summit County Council on Wednesday approved the development of a roughly 120-room hotel on State Road 224 just south of Park City Nursery.
The development, which is part of an amendment to the Murnin-Kilgore Consent Agreement, was previously slated to be a combination of office, retail and restaurant space. The owners of the property, PC Venture Partners III, LLC, requested in July that a hotel be allowed as a permitted use on the property, which comprises 74,000 square feet.
In dialogue with the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission, the Summit County Council and residents of the Sun Peak community, the overriding sentiment was that a hotel was more beneficial both economically and in terms of traffic impacts.
"Tax revenues for a hotel are much more reliable than the projected values of office, retail or restaurant [space]," said Alison Weyher, Economic Development Specialist with Summit County. "You get sales tax, transient room tax and property tax from a hotel."
The council's main concern about the development of a hotel on this parcel of land was that it would not be located in (a) a 'resort core' or (b) a town center, like Kimball Junction or Newpark, which are the two locations in which the county prefers to cluster developments like hotels.
"If the choice is between [office/retail/restaurant and a hotel], does the fact that the hotel is outside the resort center outweigh the fact that it's much less [of an] impact traffic-wise and it gives you higher revenue than the alternative?" asked Council Chair Claudia McMullin.
Summit County planner Sean Lewis said that the zoning of the property is commercial because of the consent agreement prior to that it was zoned as rural/residential. For instance, the adjacent Park City Nursery predates the development code. Lewis called the area a "hodge-podge" of consent agreements and pre-existing code.
"The underlying zoning is meaningless. A lot of zoning isn't reflecting the reality of what's on the ground," McMullin said. "A lot of rural/residential [parcels] are not going to be used as such."
Council member Roger Armstrong, who was the sole opponent to the hotel development, pointed out how speculative the perceived traffic impacts for an office/retail/restaurant development are. The lower traffic impact of the hotel was seen as a benefit of the proposal by the developers, Sun Peak community members and the majority of the council.
"From the standpoint of the county and the city in joint economic development interests, there's very little community benefit to a hotel," Armstrong said. "Members of the community can use a restaurant they're unlikely to use a hotel."
Council member Chris Robinson agreed with McMullin's sentiment, saying that the economic impacts and reductions in traffic of the hotel were "real."
"If I were not on the County Council, I would not know where the resort core started and ended. I don't consider it lodging sprawl," Robinson said. "It's set back enough from [S.R.] 224 to ensure the visual aspects of the state highway [are preserved]."
Though Council member Kim Carson voted in favor of the hotel, she earlier expressed concern that this development would set a precedent for hotels being constructed outside of resort cores or town centers. Lewis disagreed.
"I don't know that we're setting a precedent. It's more of a practice than a stated policy decision," Lewis said.
The developers will send a final site plan in for review to the Sun Peak and Snyder's Mill Homeowners Associations, Summit County and the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission before an eventual approval or denial by the county manager.