Sweeney’s ’80s approval challenged | ParkRecord.com

Sweeney’s ’80s approval challenged

Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

A Park City Planning Commissioner on Wednesday broached the idea that, potentially, the Sweeney family’s 1980s Treasure Hill approval could be nullified, claiming that the family did not progress on the project on a appropriate timeline.

The comments, made by Planning Commission chairman Jim Barth, were the most noteworthy of Wednesday’s hearing regarding Treasure Hill, which is the most controversial development application that City Hall is currently processing.

The Treasure Hill application requests 282 units, like condominiums, on a hillside just west of Old Town, on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort.

Barth did not elaborate greatly about his comments but claimed that the Treasure Hill project has been inactive for two years and used that as evidence for a potential nullification.

After the meeting, Pat Sweeney, who represents his family, refuted Barth, saying that the Sweeneys have been proceeding with the overall development plans approved in the 1980s.

He also said that City Hall attorneys have determined that the family is "proceeding in good faith" with the plans.

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"I don’t think it will be fair to then say you haven’t been actively building something," Sweeney said, adding, "We’ve been active, steady, for 20 years."

He noted the Town Bridge and improvements to ski runs at Park City Mountain Resort were also outlined in the original approval and have been finished.

Wednesday’s hearing otherwise resembled a series of previous Planning Commission meetings regarding Treasure Hill. Neighbors continue to oppose the plans and, as they have for the two years since the application was filed, keyed on fears that traffic would overrun their streets.

The Planning Commission held a 25-minute hearing, listening to testimony from nine people. The neighbors who spoke on Wednesday revisited their long-standing concerns.

They are worried that their streets, such as Lowell and Empire avenues, cannot handle the traffic that they expect Treasure Hill to attract.

Mike Allred claimed it is "undeniable" that streets cannot handle the traffic, noting particularly Empire Avenue. He said Empire Avenue narrows in the winter because of snow on the sides of the road. He claimed that studies in support of the Sweeney side are "theoretical."

"It’s the theory versus what the actual conditions are," he said.

There were also concerns about traffic from buses, construction crews and deliveries. Mary Whitesides, who lives nearby, said people moved to Park City from big cities to escape traffic jams.

Kyra Parkhurst, another neighbor, wondered what Treasure Hill would look like and charged that the Sweeneys, instead of showing renditions of the building, provide pictures of the mostly undeveloped hillside.

"It’s not going to be that beautiful green hill," she said.

The Treasure Hill discussions have been especially charged because of its location close to Old Town and because the Sweeneys rely on the 1986 approval, which was voted on before many of the neighbors moved to Park City.

Since 1986, Park City has boomed, greatly increasing traffic. The neighbors fear that Treasure Hill-related traffic will be nightmarish. But engineers have found that, with planned road upgrades and a people-moving system within Treasure Hill, the nearby roads are adequate for Treasure Hill.

Some Planning Commissioners on Wednesday continued to address traffic issues.

Andrew Volkman, a commissioner, said he could not vote in favor of Treasure Hill until he is convinced that pedestrians would be safe on the roads nearby Treasure Hill. Jack Thomas, another commissioner, also has questions.

"Is it safe or is it not safe where we’re going with this," Thomas said.

The Planning Commission is not yet scheduled to vote on the application. The discussions regarding Treasure Hill date to 2004 and the Sweeneys in recent months have seemed frustrated that the commissioners have not proceeded further. Sweeney in February told The Park Record that he hoped for a Planning Commission vote by the end of April.

The Planning Commission holds the power to approve or deny the application but, given the controversy surrounding Treasure Hill, some predict that the Planning Commission decision will be considered by the Park City Council, either through an appeal or through the City Council exercising its authority to review decisions made by the lower panel.

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