Park City ‘ignoring’ duties in dispute about development at PCMR, a critic contends
Correspondence about base-area proposal mentions City Hall planner by name, an unusual circumstance
In the middle of August, after more than a year of Park City Planning Commission talks about a major development proposal at the Park City Mountain Resort base area, there remained consternation within the opposition to the project.
The critics by then had long ago seized upon issues like the height of the proposed buildings, the amount of traffic the project would be expected to generate and the overall design. The opposition movement has spent months submitting correspondences to City Hall officials and the members of the Planning Commission, and testifying against the project.
In the middle of the afternoon on Aug. 17, Deborah Hickey, one of the opponents, sent an email to members of the Planning Commission, Planning Director Gretchen Milliken and Alexandra Ananth, who is the City Hall planner assigned to the project. The correspondence was sent in anticipation of a Planning Commission meeting the next day.
Hickey in the brief email touched on the heights of the buildings, calling them “outrageous,” and said “the lack of a traffic plan is enough to stop this project immediately” as she argued the project would “ruin Park City.” The topics are similar to those seen in correspondences to City Hall through the course of the discussions between the Planning Commission and a Provo developer called PEG Companies that is pursuing the project.
But Hickey in her criticism also mentioned Ananth by name, something that is unusual in Planning Commission proceedings. The City Hall planners assigned to projects — tasked with drafting reports weighing a development proposal against municipal code and making presentations to the Planning Commission — typically are not the target of critics even as they hold significant influence on business that is in front of the panel. In the case of the Hickey correspondence, though, the planner herself is questioned.
“I have read the latest staff report for tomorrow’s meeting and find the information presented unfair and inaccurate. PEG is not meeting the town’s criteria and Planner Ananth is ignoring her duties to follow the codes and laws of Park City,” the Hickey correspondence says. “Why are you promoting such an awful plan? What is the motive here?”
The municipal government declined to comment.
Hickey in an interview claimed the municipal government has agreed with the developer’s assertions on certain matters related to the project that, she argues, have not been resolved. She listed the transportation blueprints and the building heights as two such issues.
“A lot of people don’t think there’s enough information there to accept these items,” she said.
Hickey, as an example, cited the concept of a traffic pattern looping around the base area. She also noted the impact on neighboring properties and said the developer’s proposed building heights are being “pushed along and accepted.”
Hickey lives on Lowell Avenue close to the PCMR base area and is a member of an opposition group known as the Responsible Resort Area Development Coalition. She has been one of the chief members of the group, which goes by the acronym RRAD.
The Planning Commission appears to be preparing to cast a vote in the coming months on the project. PEG Companies earlier reached an agreement with Colorado-based PCMR owner Vail Resorts to acquire the parking lots for a project. A deal would not be finalized until after a vote. An earlier owner of PCMR in the 1990s secured an overall development approval from City Hall for the base area, and rights from that approval remain attached to the land. The Planning Commission must decide whether the proposal by PEG Companies jibes with the earlier approval.
The rhetoric in the dispute has appeared to sharpen recently with the likelihood of an approaching vote. The correspondence from Hickey followed a little more than two weeks after City Hall received email input describing the proposal as an “obscene raping of our resort.”
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A question was raised this week about the financial fortitude of a Provo developer that is pursuing a major project at the Park City Mountain Resort base area.