Opposition solidifies against City Hall’s Bonanza Park efforts | ParkRecord.com

Opposition solidifies against City Hall’s Bonanza Park efforts

One of the crucial landowners in the Bonanza Park district on Wednesday night testified he is unsure whether he supports a City Hall effort to craft a new set of ideals that would guide development in the district.

Mark J. Fischer’s comments to the Park City Planning Commission were among the most notable during what has been a broad discussion in recent months about Bonanza Park. Fischer controls a patchwork of Bonanza Park properties, including the centrally located Yard.

Fischer told the panel he is worried about the prospects of "down-zoning" property in Bonanza Park through the new set of ideals. Down-zoning is a term sometimes used in planning and zoning circles to describe a scenario in which a government adopts rules that further restrict development opportunities on a property.

Although the City Hall efforts in Bonanza Park are not based on Fischer’s plans to redevelop his properties, his ambitious ideas were among the catalysts for the municipal government to consider new ideals there.

"We need to unlock the potential of this district one way or another," Fischer told the Planning Commission.

Fischer said clarity is needed and City Hall itself needs to commit money to the district, such as by building parking. He said he is worried that property owners will need to lease commercial spaces at high rents in Bonanza Park that could price tenants out. Fischer also worried that it would be impractical for a developer to build work force housing like contemplated.

"You don’t build buildings to lose money," he said.

Fischer’s testimony was one of the highlights of a 45-minute hearing that did not start until 10 p.m. Eleven people spoke to the Planning Commission, mostly describing a range of concerns. Speakers indicated there is a petition with 152 signatures in opposition to the City Hall efforts, that the talks have taken an extended amount of time and that there is a question about who is pushing the efforts.

Clay Stuard, a former Planning Commissioner who was recently not reappointed to the panel, said businesses and property owners oppose the efforts. Stuard marked on a map the properties where there is opposition.

"What’s left, guys," he said after marking much of the map.

Brad Olch, a former mayor of Park City who served on the Park City Council and the Planning Commission prior to his three terms as mayor, wondered whether the efforts could be successful since there are so many property owners.

"I question the chance of success in all of this," Olch said.

He said buildings that may be reach to four or five stories contradict the ideas of past Park City leaders, adding that the ideals under consideration better suit a larger community.

Bill Coleman, a longtime leader in Park City’s real estate industry, said there are alternatives in the district, including offering incentives on a development-by-development basis. He inquired about City Hall’s intentions for its properties in Bonanza Park.

The Planning Commission was not scheduled to make important decisions about Bonanza Park at the meeting. It was the second time in recent weeks that testimony at a Planning Commission meeting was in opposition to the efforts.

The Bonanza Park district is roughly bounded by Kearns Boulevard, Park Avenue and Bonanza Drive. It is seen by some as an underutilized section of Park City. City Hall is crafting a set of development ideals that will be outlined in what is called a form-based code.

The Park City Planning Department sees such a code — essentially a set of planning, zoning and design ideals — as being important as Bonanza Park is redeveloped. A form-based code, officials say, will result in a mix of uses in the district, public spaces and housing available to a range of incomes levels.

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