Park City moves toward dropping Treasure from transfer program
Treasure should be removed from a City Hall program that allows certain landowners to shift development rights to another location, a municipal panel said on Wednesday, casting a unanimous vote in front of a room that was nearly empty even though the recommendation is seen as a crucial move in the overall talks about the project.
The Park City Planning Commission agreed that Treasure should be dropped from a program known as a transfer of development rights, sometimes referred to as “TDR.” The program entails so-called sending zones, where development rights can be shifted away from, and receiving zones, where the rights can be shifted toward. Approximately 10 percent of the longstanding development rights attached to the Treasure hillside are involved in the program.
Park City leaders want to remove Treasure as a sending zone altogether. City Hall intends to acquire Treasure in a conservation deal for $64 million, which would be the most expensive land purchase in the municipal government’s history. Park City voters in November will be asked to pass a ballot measure to raise most of the funding. There is concern some voters would be hesitant to cast ‘Yea’ ballots if there was a chance City Hall itself could tap the program if it were to acquire Treasure.
The Planning Commission on Wednesday spent limited time on the topic before unanimously forwarding the change to the program to the Park City Council. There was discussion about the effective date of the change before it was agreed that the date would parallel that of a City Hall closing on the acquisition if the deal is finalized. The effective date is Dec. 1 should the ballot measure pass. If it does not pass, the change in the program would not occur.
Douglas Thimm, a member of the Planning Commission, inquired why City Hall would want to relinquish the ability to transfer the development rights it would obtain as part of the acquisition. Planning Director Bruce Erickson said the elected officials want to increase the prospects of the ballot measure succeeding.
Erickson, meanwhile, told the panel Deer Valley Resort, which with the Snow Park parking lots holds the largest of the receiving zones, has not shown an interest as of now in receiving development rights through a transfer from Treasure. In effect, he said, there is nowhere currently to send the Treasure development rights.
The Treasure land is located on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured an overall development approval for the Treasure land and nearby parcels, eventually selling a stake to a firm called Park City II, LLC to form the Treasure partnership. The Treasure side spent more than a decade in talks with the Planning Commission about a development proposal encompassing approximately 1 million square feet with only limited progress. The Planning Commission and project critics worried about issues like traffic, the required excavation and the overall size of the proposal.
Mike Sweeney attended the Planning Commission meeting on behalf of the family but did not testify. There was no public input prior to the vote. The City Council is anticipated to address the change in the program as early as April 19.
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The Park City Council primary election is slated for Aug. 13, but the ballots in the vote-by-mail contest were scheduled to be sent on Tuesday. The Summit County Clerk’s Office anticipates the ballots will arrive in mailboxes and post-office boxes on Friday or Saturday.