Neighbors challenge worker housing | ParkRecord.com

Neighbors challenge worker housing

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Eight people who live on either Windrift Lane or Saddle View Way on Friday appealed to the Park City Council a lower panel’s approval of a City Hall work force housing development on Park Avenue.

The procedural move, which was expected, forces the elected officials to review a project that they previously endorsed. The City Councilors earlier gave City Hall staffers the go-ahead to pursue the development, which is slated for 2060 Park Ave.

The appeal lists six points, including the Planning Commission did not properly address wildlife habitat and failed to properly consider the effects on downstream waterways. The buildings will be too tall, the neighbors also said in the appeal.

The issues in the appeal are similar to those neighbors broached during Planning Commission hearings and other gatherings before the project was approved. Opponents dominated hearings, with the final one drawing comments from three critics and one supporter.

A date for the appeal had not been scheduled by early in the week. Appeals of Planning Commission decisions are rare. The lower panel unanimously approved the development on July 9. People unhappy with the decision quickly indicated they would challenge the project, known as Snow Creek Cottages, through an appeal.

The Planning Commission approval allows City Hall to build 13 houses on eight acres of city land directly east of the police station on Park Avenue. Most of the land would remain as open space.

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The local government then wants to sell the houses to people who qualify through their incomes. Prices would be set once the houses are ready. Phyllis Robinson, who manages City Hall’s work force housing programs, has said someone earning about $55,000 or less would have been eligible to buy one of the houses had they been available last spring.

Robinson said City Hall hopes to price the houses in the low $200,000s. She said she had hoped to start construction in the fall, but the appeal will likely delay the work if the City Council sides with the Planning Commission.

She said the houses are designed to be about 2 1/2 stories tall, with the height varying slightly throughout the project. She said the height was set at the approximately 2 1/2 stories to reduce the amount of land that will be developed. That, she said, is better for runoff.

Mayor Dana Williams, a longtime champion of work force housing, which is sometimes called affordable housing, said he expects the City Council to keep the Planning Commission’s approval intact.

Williams, who does not hold a vote in such matters unless the City Council casts a rare tie vote, supports the development, saying the location is ideal.

"I think it’s a great spot," he said, describing the land as a "wonderful spot" for the work force housing and adding City Hall has difficulty finding parcels suitable for work force projects.

Nancy Solomon, a Windrift Lane resident listed on the appeal, said the City Council should insist on tighter conditions regarding on the approval regarding wildlife, heights and waterways. She wants a broader study done of wildlife habitat on the land, among other requests.

Solomon said people from across Park City support the neighbors’ challenge, saying there is a "large movement brewing" of people who prefer the land be left undeveloped.

She is worried the City Councilors will not fairly consider the appeal since the elected officials previously said they support the project.

"Given that the hearing is being done by the City Council, and the applicant as the City Council, I would say that hurts our chances of being heard objectively," Solomon said.

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