Treasure criticism subdued as panel digs into excavation |

Treasure criticism subdued as panel digs into excavation

The discussions about the disputed Treasure development proposal continued on Wednesday, but the atmosphere appeared to be subdued compared to a series of contentious hearings held this year.

The Park City Planning Commission is likely still months away from a Treasure vote and the meeting was held the day after a momentous election, factors that may have influenced the demeanor on Wednesday.

It was the first Treasure meeting during the current round of discussions held in the Park City Council chambers at the Marsac Building after earlier ones were scheduled at the larger Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library to accommodate the crowds. Attendance has dropped since hearings earlier in the year. The City Council chambers were nearly full on Wednesday, but some in the room were there for other issues on the Planning Commission agenda rather than Treasure. Only one person testified, resulting in an unexpectedly short hearing. There have been lines to testify at earlier Treasure hearings.

Charles Stormont, an attorney who represents a Treasure opposition group known as the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, addressed the Planning Commission for nine minutes. Stormont's testimony was shorter than many of his earlier statements to the panel.

Stormont addressed the excavations the Treasure developers anticipate needing as the project is built. He claimed computer rendering created by the Treasure side do not accurately show what he described as the "tremendous" excavations that would be required. He also charged that part of the excavation zone would be located outside the areas identified in an overall approval of Treasure secured in the 1980s.

"The excavation scars are permanent," Stormont said, adding that the work would not fit nearby Old Town.

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He said the project would need to be reduced in scale to meet City Hall's strict guidelines for Old Town building designs.

The Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family, which was the traditional owner of the land, and a firm called Park City II, LLC, wants the Planning Commission to approve approximately 1 million square feet of development on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured an overall approval for development on the hillside land and nearby parcels and is now seeking another approval that is needed before Treasure itself can be built. It would be developed on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort.

The Planning Commission and audience, meanwhile, watched a lengthy presentation by the Treasure side with numerous angles of a computer-generated model showing how the project would fit on the site.

Pat Sweeney, who is the point person in the family's Treasure efforts, led the presentation, speaking about issues like an early concept of the project. At one point, a member of the Planning Commission, John Phillips, pressed for an angle of the model he wanted shown. Phillips left the dais, went to the Treasure side's table and navigated the model to the angle he desired.

The Planning Commission covered a variety of topics during their comments to the Treasure side. Members of the panel, though, seemed to spend less time overall speaking about Treasure than they have at earlier meetings, adding to the subdued nature of the evening.

Steve Joyce, a Planning Commissioner who has offered particularly lengthy comments during Treasure meetings, continued his questioning. He inquired about the excavations, asked about plans to dispose of contaminated soils and wondered about noise and dust from Treasure. He said a "glossy version" of the project has been offered thus far. He also said he would like information from PCMR owner Vail Resorts at a future meeting.

Douglas Thimm, another Planning Commissioner, said it is important for the human scale of Treasure to be understood. Melissa Band, also a Planning Commissioner, said the panel is repeatedly seeing the Treasure designs and inquired whether they will be changed based on the feedback from Planning Commissioners and the public. Band also said she wanted information about Treasure's ideas to protect the watershed.

In an interview afterward, Sweeney said he anticipates future hearings drawing more speakers than the one person on Thursday. He addressed the related topics of the excavations and the height of the Treasure buildings. Sweeney said it appears officials consider the excavations excessive but are also worried about the height and locations of the buildings as they are seen from adjacent properties. The excavations, however, would reduce the visible height, he explained.

"That leaves us with nothing. When you connect the dots, what do we have left," Sweeney said.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to address Treasure again at a meeting on Dec. 14.