Neighbors mount broad challenge to Park City event space | ParkRecord.com

Neighbors mount broad challenge to Park City event space

Project at ex-art center site will be noisy, draw traffic, appeal says

A developer wants to build event space at the site along Main Street where the Kimball Art Center was once located. Opponents of the plans to operate the event space have appealed a City Hall panels approval of the permit that was needed. The Park City Council will hear the appeal.

Opponents of a plan to operate an event space at the former site of the Kimball Art Center have appealed a City Hall panel's approval of the permit that was needed for the space, adding to a lengthy list of examples at the site highlighting the difficulties of developing in Old Town.

The Park City Historical Society and two individuals who live close to the site – John Stafsholt and Sanford Melville – submitted the three-page appeal on Dec. 22. It was signed by Melville. The appeal of the Park City Planning Commission approval will be put before the Park City Council. The Park City Planning Department anticipates the appeal will be heard in mid-February.

The Planning Commission in December approved a permit allowing an event space to operate at the site, which is located at the high-profile Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection. The vote was unanimous, but there was resistance from some in the neighborhood at the approval meeting. They were concerned about an event space operating so close to the surrounding neighborhood. The developer, a firm under the umbrella of California-based Columbus Pacific Properties, sees the event space as critical to the business plan of the redevelopment.

The project earlier won an approval for the redevelopment of the site, but a separate permit was needed to operate the event space. The developers recently built a construction fence around the site, signaling the start of work. The appeal is a challenge to the event space rather than the overall project, saying the event space is "not compatible due to its impact on the municipality and surrounding neighbors, and the conditions imposed as part of the approval do not substantially mitigate or eliminate the detrimental impacts."

Some of the points in the appeal include:

  • the anticipated noise, which the appeal says "will most certainly negatively impact the quality of life of the surrounding residential neighborhood and the up-slope adjoining areas." The appeal says the event space would be able to operate "for as many days a year as the operators can schedule" with times running to midnight.
  • light pollution in the neighborhood
  • traffic worries, which the appeal says were not fully considered. The appeal says City Hall staffers "erroneously based its analysis on a finding that this new large commercial event space will not generate any new traffic to the site versus previous uses of the site." It adds that a traffic study was not undertaken.
  • the amount of parking off the street was not fully considered. The appeal outlines a concern similar to the one regarding traffic. The "project is in fact eliminating existing on-site parking spaces, and is intended to vastly increase the frequency of events at this location," the appeal says.

    The appeal also lists concerns about a rooftop deck and whether the event space jibes with City Hall's General Plan, an overarching document that guides growth in Park City.

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    In an interview, Melville said the approval for the event space is an issue the City Council should decide. He said the approval eliminates the need for City Hall to further review events that are planned at the location.

    "I think the issue of a private outdoor event space . . . is a large enough policy issue it should get before the City Council," Melville said, adding, "This event space is for all time in the future."

    He also said the elected officials should consider the matter since "they answer to the voters."

    The event space will likely be the last major decision made about the redevelopment of the property after a lengthy civic dialog about the critical corner. The Kimball Art Center itself at one point wanted to build an expansion onto what is now a patio at the intersection. The art center design proposals encountered resistance, resulting in the not-for-profit organization selling the property.

    The developer also had difficulty proceeding through the approval process and eventually modified the project substantially to one that includes commercial square footage and the event space. The developer has said there is significant demand for event space and that the project is not expected to be as successful if there is not the space for events. The Park Record was unable to contact the developer about the appeal.

    The dispute about the event space illustrates the longtime issues involving developers along Main Street and people who live on nearby Old Town streets like Park Avenue and Woodside Avenue. City Hall over the years has needed to delicately weigh the interests of the neighborhood against the rights of property owners on the sometimes-raucous shopping, dining and entertainment strip.