Deadline fast approaching for a Treasure accord
March 15, 2011
It does not appear that negotiating teams from City Hall and the Sweeney family will come to a Treasure resolution by a deadline set last fall as the two sides prepared for a critical round of discussions about whether all or some of the Treasure land could be set aside from development in a conservation deal.
An agreement between the two sides to engage in the negotiations expires on April 30. The timeline parallels the Sweeney family’s willingness to suspend its talks with the Park City Planning Commission about the Treasure development proposal itself. The family broke off its discussions with the Planning Commission approximately one year ago, spending the time in conservation negotiations instead.
It is not clear whether the two sides will extend the conservation talks past the April 30 deadline. It is also not known when the decision will be made whether to extend the talks or break them off.
If a deal is not reached by the deadline, the Sweeneys could choose not to extend them and return to the discussions with the Planning Commission about the development.
Mike Sweeney, who is one of the family’s negotiators, acknowledged that the two sides will not reach an agreement by April 30. But he also said the family and City Hall are progressing on the discussions. He said the family will decide by the deadline whether there has been enough progress to agree to continue. If not, the family would restart the talks with the Planning Commission, he said.
"I believe our goal is to come up with a solution acceptable to the parties," Sweeney said.
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Sweeney is one of three brothers leading the Treasure efforts. Treasure-related decisions are made by the three of them. Sweeney said he is "happy with the direction we’re moving" in the negotiations with City Hall. He said he will recommend the two other brothers and the family’s partners agree to continue with the talks beyond the April 30 deadline.
One of City Hall’s negotiators, City Councilwoman Liza Simpson, said there has been "periods of great activity and inactivity" in the negotiations, with few meetings between the full negotiating teams being held in the last month.
"It’s a negotiation. I think people would rather we take the time and do it right," Simpson said.
The negotiations have been held in closed-door meetings, and the two sides have sporadically released general information but few details. City Hall and the Sweeney family are focusing on two options — one that would eliminate the prospects of development at the site altogether and another that would reduce the size of the development by 50 percent. Either option would have an attached price tag.
The looming deadline comes as a related set of discussions is underway at City Hall about whether officials should create a program allowing landowners to shift development rights from their land to another spot where growth is seen as being more appropriate. The Treasure acreage is a key parcel in the discussions about the transfers.
If a program is put in place, the thinking goes, some of the Treasure development rights could be shifted to another location. The details have not been finalized, though. If some of the development rights are shifted, a ballot measure to conserve the rest of the Treasure acreage would come down in price.
The Sweeneys hold longstanding development rights on the Treasure land, situated on a hillside overlooking Old Town and on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort.
There has been widespread criticism of the Treasure blueprints from people who live close to the site, with worries including the size of the buildings and the traffic the project is anticipated to attract. The family and the Planning Commission spent years in discussions about Treasure with only marginal progress being made before the talks stalled.