City Hall’s Planning Commission cut out of Treasure talks
The Park City Planning Commission, the panel that has spent years engaged in talks with Sweeneys about the family’s Treasure development proposal, has been asked not to participate in the current discussions about the project’s future, the chairman of the Planning Commission said in an interview.
Charlie Wintzer said City Hall officials asked the Planning Commission to skip two crucial open houses about Treasure, one last week and one that was scheduled Tuesday evening. Wintzer declined to discuss the request in depth. However, he said, he would have preferred the panel have a role.
The Sweeneys and City Hall are amid a high-stakes round of discussions that could result in an agreement that would greatly reduce the scope of Treasure or eliminate the prospects of development on the prized acreage altogether.
The talks involve the Sweeneys and a negotiating team from City Hall made of Mayor Dana Williams, Park City Councilwoman Liza Simpson and staffers. The Planning Commission does not have a representative.
"I would have rather seen someone with the Planning Commission involved in this," Wintzer said, also indicating that he would have liked a role for a staffer from the Planning Department.
The talks could have a dramatic effect on the project’s blueprints, which would eventually be brought to the Planning Commission should a conservation deal for the entire acreage not be negotiated.
The elected officials could strike a financial deal with the Sweeneys that allows some development but keeps other pieces of land inside Treasure as open space. If that is the case, the Sweeneys would be expected to revise the Treasure application, leaving the Planning Commission to review the redone development request. Had members of the panel been involved in the talks leading to that sort of agreement, their impartiality while hearing a revised application might be questioned.
City Hall staffers are scheduled to address the Planning Commission on Wednesday at a meeting scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. at the Marsac Building. A hearing is not planned. The current Treasure application calls for a hotel to anchor the development, which would stretch through a series of buildings on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort close to Old Town and along the lower route of the Town Lift.
The talks between the Sweeneys and the Planning Commission have essentially been on hold since the spring, when a procedural change was made to City Hall’s development rules that freed the elected officials to engage the Sweeneys in talks about a conservation deal. Since then, the two sides have been in closed-door negotiations.
The open houses revealed a series of options that are under consideration that call for varying levels of development at Treasure. The first one drew approximately 80 people commenting on the ideas. Wintzer said the Planning Commission has not been briefed on the options.
Some members of the Planning Commission have repeatedly criticized the Treasure blueprints that are outlined in the current application, challenging the Sweeneys on issues like the steps proposed to handle the traffic Treasure is expected to draw to streets like Empire Avenue and Lowell Avenue and the size of the buildings the Sweeneys want to put up, which would be some of the tallest ever built in Park City. People who live close to the site, too, have been sharp in their criticism, bringing up points similar to those that the Planning Commission worries about.
Mike Sweeney, one of three brothers leading the Treasure efforts and one of the family’s negotiators in the talks with City Hall, said he expects to attend the Wednesday Planning Commission meeting but not address the panel. He said, though, he would like the Planning Commission to eventually be provided the exhibits that were on display at the open houses.
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