Park City Treasure opponent envisions a ‘living hell’  | ParkRecord.com

Park City Treasure opponent envisions a ‘living hell’ 

Critics worry about large excavation, blasting near neighborhood

The Treasure development partnership intends to haul excavated materials up the hillside. The map shows the route from the project site off Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue to the location where the materials would be brought. The excavation was an important topic at a Park City Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday. (Courtesy of Treasure)

The Treasure partnership on Wednesday continued to encounter deep-rooted opposition to the hillside project in front of a crowd worried about issues ranging from the anticipated excavation to the skiing plans.

The Park City Planning Commission held another meeting about Treasure as it appears the panel is preparing to render a decision after more than a decade of on-and-off talks about the project. The discussion on Wednesday again showed the Planning Commission and Treasure critics remain skeptical of the blueprints.

The meeting on Wednesday continued a series of especially difficult talks in recent months as the sides are attempting to address the broad list of issues that remain unresolved.

The plan for the Treasure construction was one of the notable topics discussed on Wednesday. The sides dealt with the anticipated excavation of the Treasure site that would be needed at the outset of the work. People who live nearby are worried the excavation would disrupt the neighborhood as crews blast the hillside with explosives.

The Treasure side said 600 days of work would be required to excavate the site and move the dirt that is taken out of the ground. The developers said explosives would be used for the excavation. The blasts, though, would be controlled, the Treasure side said, adding that using explosives in an excavation provides benefits like creating less dust and noise than other methods of moving the dirt and rocks. Treasure figures also said water trucks would spray the worksite to control dust.

Treasure addressed other construction topics as well, saying the typical work hours would run from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. The comment about the hours drew laughs from the crowd. Winter construction hours would be shorter, perhaps from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., the Treasure representatives said. Work would be stopped during large special events.

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But the Planning Commission and the public raised concerns about issues like the number of trucks that would be required to drive to and from the excavation. Steve Joyce, a Planning Commissioner, calculated there would be 14 trucks an hour at some points.

"I can't picture that working," Joyce said.

Pat Sweeney, a Treasure representative, said there would be fewer trucks than Joyce projected based on the sort of vehicles that would be used.

Joyce also argued the plans are changing in regard to the locations where excavated material would be deposited. He questioned whether the material would be taken to land protected as open space. Sweeney said in an interview afterward most of the excavated material would be brought to another part of the Treasure acreage while the rest would be put at the top of the King's Crown run at Park City Mountain Resort.

Sweeney, meanwhile, said in an interview the explosives that would be used during the excavation would be tightly controlled. The blasts would be "well-regulated, well-developed. I would say it's a science."

"They're going to be small. They're going to be scattered. They're going to be in intervals," Sweeney said, adding that the noise from the blasting would be "essentially imperceptible to the neighbors." The Treasure proposal involves nearly 1 million square feet of development on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The Sweeney family secured development rights on the land and nearby parcels in the 1980s. The land is now under the ownership of the Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC. The partnership is seeking another important permit needed before the project can proceed. Critics claim Treasure would overwhelm surrounding Old Town with lots of traffic and large buildings.

The crowd at the meeting on Wednesday was one of the larger ones in recent months as people who have been closely following Treasure are aware a Planning Commission decision could be made shortly. The crowd was heavily weighted toward the Treasure opposition, continuing a long-running trend in the leanings of the audience.

The Planning Commission took a little more than an hour of testimony from Treasure critics. The speakers touched on the blasting as well as wider issues that have been raised over the course of the Treasure discussions.

Critics said it would take time for Treasure to resemble computer-generated images of the project that have been shown, it is not certain that the skiing upgrades planned as a part of Treasure would be undertaken as currently designed and that the open space within Treasure would not remain pristine.

Nicole Deforge, an attorney who represents the opposition group Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, said the project would "obliterate" much of the vegetation. She also claimed the project is larger than what was contemplated in the 1980s approval.

Niels Vernegaard, a Treasure critic who lives on Lowell Avenue, said the roads in the vicinity of Treasure cannot support the construction traffic, inferring the project would crush the neighborhood.

"It's going to be a living hell," Vernegaard said.

The Planning Commissioners offered limited comments after the hearing. Laura Suesser, a panel member, said Treasure's current plans do not address earlier Planning Commission concerns, as an example.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to address Treasure next at a meeting on Oct. 25.

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