Park City drops Treasure from transfer program, assuaging worries
Park City’s elected officials on Thursday removed Treasure from a municipal program allowing certain landowners to shift development rights attached to their acreage to a location deemed to be better suited for growth.
It is seen as an important step as City Hall attempts to win support for a $64 million agreement to acquire the long-disputed Treasure land, situated on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift.
The municipal program, known as a transfer of development rights, or TDR, designates certain locations as so-called sending zones, where development rights can be shifted away from, and receiving zones, where the rights can be shifted toward.
Treasure had been a sending zone and was seen as the most important one. Only approximately 10 percent of the longstanding development rights attached to the Treasure land were involved in the program, though.
City Hall during an earlier round of discussions about Treasure created the program. Officials at the time said the transfer of development rights program was not explicitly crafted for Treasure, but the program was launched during an especially tense period of discussions about the project.
The leaders at the time saw the program as something that could break a Treasure logjam through shifting the development rights elsewhere. Such a breakthrough never occurred, though, and the Treasure partnership continued to press forward with its plans to develop upward of 1 million square feet of residences, commercial space and convention space. Last winter, years after the program was created, City Hall and the Treasure side reached the $64 million deal.
The current roster of elected officials wanted to remove Treasure as a sending zone in an effort to assuage concerns about the agreement to acquire Treasure in a conservation deal. The deal hinges on a ballot measure in November that is expected to be set at between $50 million and $55 million. It would be, by a wide margin, the most expensive conservation acquisition in Park City’s history.
There was worry that City Hall could acquire Treasure and then tap the transfer program itself, perhaps someday to shift development rights it acquired in a Treasure deal toward a work force or otherwise affordable housing project. Some envisioned losing voter support if City Hall could shift the Treasure development rights elsewhere if an acquisition is finalized rather than the municipal government outright extinguishing the development rights.
If the City Hall acquisition does not close by April 1, 2019, the removal of Treasure as a sending zone would be nullified.
The removal of Treasure as a sending zone was not controversial and did not appear to attract widespread attention. The Park City Planning Commission in March recommended the removal. The City Council on Thursday cast a 3-0 vote to remove Treasure from the program with City Councilors Becca Gerber and Nann Worel absent. Nobody from the public was in the City Council chambers when the vote was cast.
Steve Joyce, a City Councilor, questioned whether City Hall should scrap the transfer program entirely. City Attorney Mark Harrington, though, said the program should remain intact, explaining it is already a part of City Hall’s development rules should the Statehouse make a move against transfers.
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