Criticized, Talisker pursues worker housing | ParkRecord.com

Criticized, Talisker pursues worker housing

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Talisker officials continue to face resistance in their bid to put a work force housing development in the upper reaches of Old Town, most recently facing a small group of neighborhood people critical of the plans.

The Empire Pass developer, though, has convinced City Hall officials that the project is appropriate for the site. The Park City Planning Commission recently cast two votes in Talisker’s favor, determining that land, even though it is steep, is appropriate for the development and favorably recommending the land be subdivided. The Park City Council must consider the lower panel’s recommendation that the land be subdivided. The elected officials are tentatively scheduled to vote on Nov. 6.

Planning Commissioners had earlier granted the overall approval for the development. City Hall is continuing to review the Talisker designs for the project.

Talisker wants to build 10 houses at 100 Marsac Ave., each measuring about 1,200 square feet. Talisker must put up the worker housing to partially fulfill the requirements of Empire Pass, the slopeside development in Deer Valley. Talisker is pursuing other work force housing tied to the Empire Pass approvals elsewhere as well.

The Marsac Avenue site is toward the southern end of Old Town, and it is situated close to neighbors on Marsac Avenue. Others in the neighborhood are also worried about the project.

They have long complained that the work force housing will attract too much traffic and the project is too big.

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Several people testified to the Planning Commission during a recent meeting, with the speakers critical of the Talisker blueprints.

In a rare appearance before the Planning Commission by a City Councilor, Liza Simpson said the project’s design does not appear to fit the Victorian architecture popular in Old Town. Simpson lives on Main Street and said her testimony should be considered as coming from a regular Parkite, not as a City Councilor.

"None of that roofline looks like Old Town to me," Simpson said, adding, "It all looks very flat."

David Smith, the Talisker attorney who handles the firm’s negotiations with City Hall, had indicated just earlier that the designs are more appealing than previous versions. The houses would have a variety of heights, he said.

Meanwhile, Ruth Gezelius, who lives on nearby Prospect Avenue, claimed the houses would be larger than neighboring houses and she worried about more traffic.

Other topics brought up at the meeting included criticism that the houses would clutter the view, a question about whether there is enough space to push snow and a mention of speeding drivers on Marsac Avenue. Some people on nearby Ontario Court are worried about traffic.

The recent meeting followed about one month after City Hall received a starkly worded letter from a woman who lives on Main Street criticizing the Marsac Avenue idea. Betsy Wallace said in the letter the project could bring down property values and increase crime. She inquired whether City Hall and Talisker would reimburse neighbors because housing values would drop.

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