Park City panel, struggling, splits votes on City Hall housing project
A City Hall panel on Tuesday denied one point of an appeal of the approval of a municipal housing project in Old Town, agreed to send another aspect of the challenge back to the Park City Planning Commission for additional discussions and essentially let two other matters stand as approved by the Planning Commission, a set of decisions that left both sides headed into another round of talks about the disputed development.
The Park City Board of Adjustment, which hears appeals of some development decisions, appeared to struggle as it attempted to craft a decision on the second phase of Woodside Park workforce or otherwise affordable housing. The Park City Planning Commission in May approved the project, prompting Doug Lee, whose family owns a house close to the project location, to appeal the approval. The appeal covered the project’s adherence to City Hall open space requirements, the setbacks, which are the grounds between a building and the property line, the compliance with City Hall’s strict Old Town guidelines and the municipal government’s parking requirements for a development like the second phase of Woodside Park.
The Board of Adjustment, short one member for the meeting and with the possibility of tie votes, backed Lee regarding the setbacks, returning that point to the Planning Commission. The Board of Adjustment sided with City Hall regarding the open space requirement, saying the Planning Commission did not err on that point. The board members cast split votes, 2-2, regarding the Old Town guidelines and parking requirements. The 2-2 votes allowed the Planning Commission decisions on those matters to stand.
Lee in an interview afterward said the meeting was a “partial victory.” He said he would consult his attorney to discuss options. Challenges of Board of Adjustment decisions are pursued in district court rather than another municipal body.
“(I) think the Board of Adjustments did an admirable job of evaluating both sides of the issues raised in our appeal. They proved that they are a group of independent and fair minded residents,” Lee said in a prepared statement.
The Board of Adjustment during the discussion seemed to consider remanding the project back to the Planning Commission, but there appeared to be struggles regarding the details. Jody Burnett, an attorney retained by City Hall for certain planning and zoning issues, urged the Board of Adjustment to provide specific directions as part of any remand.
Ruth Gezelius, a Board of Adjustment member, said there were “so many question marks” in the Planning Commission approval of the second phase of Woodside Park. The points raised in the appeal were significant, she said, continuing that there were “serious flaws” in the Planning Commission decision.
“There is a way to do this better,” she said.
Other members of the Board of Adjustment expressed concern about the setbacks as they opted to send that issue back to the Planning Commission.
In testimony to the Board of Adjustment, Lee said the project would “obliterate” the setback requirements, said he wants a comprehensive study of traffic and argued it is a paradox for City Hall to spend $64 million to acquire the Treasure acreage overlooking Old Town for conservation purposes and then pursue a development like the second phase of Woodside Park in the same neighborhood.
The attorney representing Lee, Nicole Deforge, said it is disappointing to oppose a municipal project based, in part, on the issue of open space. Deforge, who represented a group that opposed the Treasure development proposal and supported the acquisition of that land for conservation purposes, said the critics of Treasure demanded compliance with the development rules.
But City Hall countered the claims as Anne Laurent, the community development director, told the Board of Adjustment the project does not exceed the allowed number of units or the height restrictions at the location. The City Hall side said the development would be pedestrian friendly and fits in the neighborhood. Laurent described the design as being “as compatible as possible.” Laurent said the second phase of Woodside Park would increase the number of year-round residents.
The second phase of Woodside Park involves 58 units in a combination of townhouses and condominiums. It is designed to stretch across the 1300 blocks of Empire Avenue, Woodside Avenue and Norfolk Avenue. The project is part of City Hall’s overall efforts toward a goal of adding 800 units of housing priced at affordable or attainable levels by the end of 2026.
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