Park City wants to assuage worries about $64 million Treasure deal
A Park City panel on Wednesday is expected to take an important step in the overall discussions about City Hall’s intentions to acquire the Treasure acreage in a conservation deal, a move that is meant to assuage concerns that an acquisition could lead to greater development elsewhere even as the Treasure land itself is preserved.
The Park City Planning Commission is scheduled to consider a modification to a municipal program that allows certain landowners to shift development rights attached to their acreage to another spot deemed more appropriate for growth. The program is known as a transfer of development rights and it is sometimes referred to as a “TDR” program.
An earlier set of Park City leaders enacted the program as a means to guide development. There was hope at the time a program could break what had become a logjam in the Treasure discussions by allowing the longstanding development rights attached to the land to be shifted elsewhere. A deal was never struck to shift the Treasure development rights, but the program remains intact.
As part of the program, City Hall created so-called sending zones, where development rights can be shifted away from, and receiving zones, where the rights can be shifted toward. The program includes approximately 10 percent of the Treasure development rights as a sending zone, meaning the Treasure partnership could shift only a small portion of the rights. City Hall, though, wants to remove Treasure as a sending zone altogether.
Shifts of development rights are largely private matters between landowners in the sending and receiving zones. The financial aspects of the deals are negotiated based on the market price of the development rights involved.
The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured an overall development approval for the Treasure land and nearby parcels. Treasure is now owned by a partnership involving the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC. The Treasure side has been in on-and-off talks with the Planning Commission about a development proposal involving upward of 1 million square feet on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift.
Critics claim the development proposal would overwhelm Old Town with traffic and the project would loom over the neighborhood. The Planning Commission appeared deeply skeptical as well, prompting discussions about a conservation deal. Park City officials and the Treasure partnership early in the year reached a $64 million conservation agreement, by a wide margin the largest open space deal in Park City’s lauded land program. The deal hinges on a ballot measure in November to raise most of the funding.
There was quickly chatter after the Treasure acquisition was negotiated about the City Hall program allowing shifts of development rights. It seemed early on that City Hall could tap the program itself if it were to acquire Treasure.
The municipal government appeared to have interest in the possibility of recouping some of the cost of the acquisition by reaching an agreement to transfer the development rights from the Treasure land. Mayor Andy Beerman in February indicated it was estimated the development rights attached to Treasure that are a part of the program could generate between $3 million and $10 million.
The talks about City Hall acquiring Treasure and then reaching a separate deal shifting some of the development rights elsewhere received criticism shortly after the possibility was outlined. People worried that voter support for a ballot measure could erode if officials intended to shift the development rights instead of intending to extinguish the rights outright.
The Planning Commission on Wednesday is scheduled to hold a hearing about the change to the program and possibly make a recommendation to the Park City Council. City Hall staffers suggest the change be forwarded to the elected officials with a positive recommendation. The City Council could consider the matter as early as April 19. The Planning Commission meeting is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at the Marsac Building.
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