Park City, now the developer, urged to ‘pay more than lip service’ to rules
An attorney representing a critic of City Hall’s plans to build a second phase of Woodside Park workforce or otherwise restricted affordable housing in Old Town in mid-May sent a letter to the Park City Planning Commission urging officials to meet the same standards that would be required of a private-sector developer in the neighborhood.
Nicole Deforge, the attorney for an Empire Avenue homeowner named Douglas Lee, submitted the letter on May 15, just days before two important gatherings about the plans for the second phase of Woodside Park. City Hall on Monday held an open house about the project and on Wednesday the Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss the project.
Deforge outlines an assertion that the project does not meet City Hall’s development rules. It is an argument that critics of the project broached early in the talks but one the municipal government disputes. There is the possibility of tension at the Planning Commission meeting as the sides continue to disagree about crucial aspects of the project.
“The mere fact that the City is the developer here, rather than a third party, is not a legal basis for excusing noncompliance or loosening standards. Surely, the City should set the example for other developers by unequivocally complying with all of the City’s ordinances and historic preservation guidelines in connection with this project,” the Deforge letter says. “The City should not attempt to rely on inapplicable exceptions and loopholes simply because it wants this project. The City cannot possibly expect to hold other developers to these important standards requiring open space and historic preservation if it does not respect those standards itself.”
Deforge in the four-page letter argues the proposal fails to comply with City Hall rules regulating issues such as parking, open space and the planned location of a historic home.
“The City must pay more than lip service to the importance of open space, historic preservation, and quality of life for existing neighborhoods . . . Otherwise, the City will lose credibility with its residents and other developers and will not be able (to) enforce compliance when faced with other projects that it might not want as badly as it wants this project,” the letter says.
City Hall officials maintain the project complies with zoning and other development rules.
Deforge submitted the letter to the Planning Commission at a key moment in the discussions about the second phase of Woodside Park. The open house on Monday and the Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday were seen as important events as City Hall attempts to answer the concerns while the critics press the municipal government on a project that would be one of the most ambitious in Old Town in years.
The proposal involves 58 units — a mix of townhouses and condominiums — stretching through the 1300 blocks of Empire Avenue, Woodside Avenue and Norfolk Avenue. Park City leaders want to price most of the units at levels considered to be affordable or attainable while market rates would be attached to five of the units. The sales of the market-rate units would raise monies for the construction of the overall project.
Woodside Park is important to City Hall’s goal of adding 800 units of housing that would be priced at affordable or attainable levels by the end of 2026. The project would continue City Hall’s long-running housing efforts, which are designed to assist rank-and-file workers and seniors who are otherwise priced out of Park City’s resort-driven real estate market. Leaders say the housing program provides benefits like ensuring socioeconomic diversity and reducing commuter traffic.
Opponents, though, sometimes challenge the size of a project and the traffic it would generate. The Deforge letter says Lee, the homeowner who retained the attorney, does not object to housing projects in Park City that comply with City Hall rules.
The Planning Commission meeting is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. at the Marsac Building. Three items regarding the project are on the agenda. One is centered on the application for a master-planned development, which are typically larger, more complicated projects, while another one is focused on the application for a conditional-use permit, something that involves crafting measures meant to address the potential impacts of a development. The other is centered on a plat amendment that would be needed for the project. Hearings and possible votes are scheduled for each of the items.
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The Park City Ice Arena is expected to temporarily close later in 2021 to allow crews to replace the ice surface and perform other maintenance work, one of a series of projects City Hall plans to outline at an upcoming open house. It will be an in-person event.