After nine-plus years, an Old Town project still perplexes
A developer continues to pursue a project in Old Town nearly a decade after the first submittal to City Hall, a timeline that illustrates the complexities of building in the neighborhood.
The project, known as Alice Claim, would be situated just off the intersection of King Road and Sampson Avenue. The 8.65-acre site is in the southern reaches of Old Town.
A firm called King Development Group, LLC owns the land and is seeking an approval of a subdivision involving nine housing lots. Jerry Fiat, who represents the ownership, said the houses would be a maximum of 5,000 square feet each.
The Park City Planning Commission recently discussed the project. The panel was not scheduled to make important decisions at the meeting. The development team provided an overview to the Planning Commission, discussing topics like the intention to preserve as many evergreen trees as possible and that public access will be maintained through the property.
Members of the Planning Commission mentioned a series of concerns about the project, though. Steve Joyce, a Planning Commissioner, said he was worried the houses might not be compatible with nearby ones. Adam Strachan, another member of the panel, mentioned the steep terrain at the site and questioned whether land within the project that will not be built upon will be privately held open space or community open space. Fiat, though, said the open space would be publicly accessible and the developer would guarantee that through a deed.
A City Hall report submitted to the Planning Commission prior to the meeting included a timeline showing a process involving the land starting late in the spring of 2005, when the municipal government received an application to amend the plat map at the site. Meetings, site visits, updates, submittals or other actions were logged in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
In November of 2012, City Hall closed the application after there was not activity, according to the report. The developer appealed the decision to close the application. In early 2013, the planning director at City Hall, Thomas Eddington, rescinded the closure. The report indicates Eddington required the developer to "specify which site plan they wanted to move forward with" and press ahead with the Planning Commission process by March 13, 2013. In June of 2014, the developers indicated to City Hall they wanted to proceed with a design of nine housing lots.
The project is further complicated by soils with silver mining-era contamination at the site. The developer undertook a cleanup on the property, submitting a report to state environmental regulators in the summer of 2013, the City Hall report says. The state Department of Environmental Quality has not provided a letter of completion, though, the report says.
The developer has removed more than 1,000 dump truck loads of contaminated soils from the site, according to Fiat. He said the developer, at its own expense, has conducted an environmental cleanup of both the project site and an adjacent property owned by the municipal government.
Fiat said the Department of Environmental Quality will wait to grant the letter of completion until the developer secures the approval of the subdivision from City Hall.
There are discussions, meanwhile, about road access to the project site. The developer wants to access the site via a road that would be called Alice Court. It would intersect with King Road and Sampson Avenue. The report to the Planning Commission indicates more study is needed.
In an interview, Fiat said there is not a timeline for construction. He said the steepness of the site will not preclude development.
"It’s not any more or any less steep . . . It’s consistent with what’s there," he said about the terrain, adding, "We see stuff built on much steeper grades."
The City Hall report indicates a detailed plan would be required outlining what steps the developer would take to lessen the impacts during construction, known as a construction mitigation plan. The steps would be "to protect existing development" nearby.
"Site stabilization might also be an important consideration depending upon the amounts of vegetation proposed to be removed as a result of the proposed development," the report says.
The project is emblematic of the difficulties City Hall faces at some sites in Old Town. There is a dwindling number of parcels in the neighborhood where development is more easily accomplished, leaving Park City officials and landowners tangling over places where building a project is more challenging.
Another Planning Commission meeting about Alice Claim is not yet scheduled.
Old Town has long been seen as a prime neighborhood for permanent homes and vacation properties, making it financially viable for a developer to spend years in discussions with City Hall about a project before it is built as is the case with Alice Claim. Another example was the long dispute about Echo Spur on Rossi Hill, which is also an Old Town project set in a little-traveled section of the neighborhood.
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A member of the Summit County Council engaged Park City officials as tensions continued regarding a City Hall concept to build a facility to store materials containing silver mining-era contaminants along the S.R. 248 entryway. Roger Armstrong has emerged as one of the high-profile critics of the efforts to build a facility known as a repository.