City Hall-Boyer partnership narrowly wins nod for entryway development
City Hall and The Boyer Company, the two sides of a public-private partnership preparing to develop the Park City Heights project, on Wednesday night narrowly won the approval needed to proceed, convincing a majority of a bare bones Planning Commission to vote for the project.
Making the decision down two members after the ascension of Dick Peek to the Park City Council and the resignation of Richard Luskin, Planning Commissioners split their vote, 2-2. Charlie Wintzer, the chairman of the panel, broke the tie with a vote in favor of the project. Planning Commissioners Mick Savage and Julia Pettit cast the ‘Yea’ votes while Brooke Hontz and Adam Strachan dissented.
The Planning Commission spent months in discussions with the partnership, struggling at many points as they attempted to craft a project that they would support along the S.R. 248 entryway. They spent significant time on issues like the traffic that the project is expected to put onto the state highway and the designs of the buildings.
But the approval seemed only lukewarm, with Wintzer tacitly indicating on Wednesday night the Park City Heights blueprints are the best that could be designed for the location. Savage, meanwhile, said, "it is what it is" before his vote in favor of the project.
Strachan, as he prepared for his negative vote, was especially critical of Park City Heights. He said there will be an "outcry" from Parkites when the project is developed.
"This is suburban sprawl. It is," he said.
The approval allows 239 development units on 239 acres just off the southwest corner of Quinn’s Junction. Most of the land — 171 acres — will remain as open space. Of the 239 units, 160 will be built as houses that will be sold on the open market. The other 79 will be built as work force housing to be split between City Hall, The Boyer Company and Intermountain Healthcare, the developer of the nearby Park City Medical Center.
The market-rate houses are seen as being as large as 6,000 square feet and as small as 900 square feet. The work force housing units could range from 3,500 square feet to 800 square feet. The work force units will be intermingled with the higher-priced places, a design that ensures there will be a mix of housing types in any one area of Park City Heights.
The project will be, by a wide margin, City Hall’s most ambitious work force development. Park City leaders in 2009, in a controversial decision, agreed to pay The Boyer Company $5.5 million for a 50 percent stake in the land. The City Council at the time was especially interested in the prospects of building a large bloc of work force housing.
City Hall sees itself as being among the top local supporters of the theory behind work force housing — that there are numerous benefits, such as reduced commuter traffic and civic pride — to a community when rank-and-file workers live locally. Supporters say many of the workers would otherwise be priced out of Park City’s resort-driven housing market, the most expensive in the state.
The partnership must return to the Planning Commission for further approvals before the project can be built, but the vote on Wednesday was the most important since Park City earlier agreed to annex the land. Phyllis Robinson, a City Hall official closely involved in the Park City Heights discussions, said preliminary work at the site could begin as early as this fall but more likely will commence in the spring of 2012.
The project will include a public park, community gardens, trails and a community center-clubhouse, among other amenities.
Nobody testified at a hearing prior to the vote. There was little apparent interest from Parkites in the months of Planning Commission deliberations, likely a result of the Park City Heights land being separated from any neighborhoods.
Some Planning Commissioners have had longstanding concerns about the project. The panel last August split its vote, 4-2, when it determined that Park City Heights works within City Hall’s General Plan, an overarching document that guides growth in the city. Strachan was one of the dissenters in the August vote.
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