Old Town panelist interested in wider authority for City Hall board | ParkRecord.com

Old Town panelist interested in wider authority for City Hall board

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The chairman of City Hall’s Historic Preservation Board says he desires that the Old Town panel be given wider authority in reviewing the building designs in the neighborhood, an opinion that may conflict with the prevailing attitudes of Park City leaders.

In an interview, Roger Durst said it is preferred that the panel be assigned more duties in looking at designs. The Historic Preservation Board currently does not review designs unless a developer appeals a decision made by City Hall staffers to the panel.

Durst, who is an architect, said the Historic Preservation Board "ought to be more proactive."

Durst’s statements, which were not made on behalf of the other members of the Historic Preservation Board, come nearly a decade after the Park City Council of that era disbanded the panel’s predecessor and replaced it with the Historic Preservation Board. In doing so, the City Council stripped the panel of the authority its predecessor had in reviewing designs.

Architects and house designers at the time argued that the City Hall process was onerous and too much time was spent debating the designs. In the years since, though, there has continued to be consternation between City Hall, the design community and Old Town enthusiasts about development in the neighborhood.

Durst’s comments will likely be closely watched by architects and house designers who would be skeptical of ideas to expand the role of the Historic Preservation Board.

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The comments come as the Historic Preservation Board prepares to meet with Mayor Dana Williams and the City Council for a round of discussions. The elected officials would need to approve any expanded role for the panel.

The upcoming meeting is scheduled at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in the City Council chambers at the Marsac Building. The City Council is not scheduled to make decisions regarding the role of the Historic Preservation Board.

Williams said he envisions the upcoming meeting as a "check in" with the Historic Preservation Board and said the nature of its authority could be discussed. He said other topics on Tuesday could include future community outreach by the panel and relations between the Historic Preservation Board and the Park City Historical Society.

Old Town has long been the most contentious neighborhood in Park City, with the city’s influential preservation community lobbying for tight development restrictions and many architects and house designers wanting additional latitudes in their work.