Treasure developers reaffirm intentions to force a fall vote
A formal request for a decision could be made within weeks
THE PARK RECORD
The Treasure partnership on Monday reaffirmed it will force a Park City Planning Commission decision on the disputed project later in 2017, a timeline that could call for a formal request for a vote later this month.
The partnership in March made an unexpected statement that it would invoke a section of state law that allows a developer to demand a decision by a planning commission within 45 days of the request. The law is rarely used in Park City and surrounding Summit County, but a Treasure move to force a vote will propel the developer, the opposition and the Planning Commission into a dramatic 45-day stretch after more than a decade of on-and-off discussions about the project.
The partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, wants to build approximately 1 million square feet of residences, commercial spaces and convention space on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The land is off streets like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue.
The partnership holds rights dating from an overall approval granted in the 1980s for development on the Treasure land and nearby parcels but has struggled to win support for the proposal during the 10-plus years since the paperwork was filed at City Hall. The Planning Commission continues to review the proposal, but the partnership is poised to effectively end the panel’s deliberations through the request for a vote.
Pat Sweeney, who represents his family in the Treasure talks, said on Monday a vote is desired no later than the Planning Commission’s second meeting in October. That meeting is scheduled Oct. 25. Sweeney said the formal request will be delivered to City Hall as early as the end of August. The Planning Commission would have 45 days from the date of a formal request to make a decision.
The Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to address Treasure three more times before Oct. 25. A meeting to discuss traffic is planned on Aug. 9 followed by meetings with Treasure on the agenda on Sept. 13 and Oct. 11.
“Absolutely intend to make the request in sufficient time to see a vote,” Sweeney said, adding, “We will make that request because we don’t want to keep going on beyond October.”
The partnership has said it is concerned the Planning Commission will continue to discuss Treasure indefinitely if a decision is not requested under the state law. Various Planning Commission rosters over the decade-plus of discussions have never been on the cusp of casting a vote. Panel members over the years, including the current ones, have expressed deep-rooted concerns about Treasure-related traffic and the overall size and design of the project, among other issues. The current Planning Commission has spent more than a year discussing Treasure as it has dwelled on crucial issues like traffic before moving onto other ones that are not as prominent like the excavation plans.
“It doesn’t seem like we’re ever going to get there unless we’re pretty firm,” Sweeney said about a decision. “It just seems like we need to be pretty firm about a schedule so it just happens one way or another.”
Steve Joyce, a Planning Commissioner, said on Monday the panel anticipates receiving more information from the partnership about traffic and parking shortly. Additional developer submittals addressing the excavation are also needed, he said.
“The simple answer is we have to be,” Joyce said about the Planning Commission’s readiness to potentially cast a vote in October, adding, “The question is will we have all the answers to our questions.”
Treasure long ago became one of the community’s pivotal issues, but the project will almost certainly take on even greater prominence as the sides brace for the vote once the formal request for a decision is made. It will be one of the most anticipated Planning Commission votes in decades. Any decision by the Planning Commission is expected to be put to a three-person appeal panel. The Treasure opposition would be anticipated to appeal a Planning Commission approval of the project while the development partnership is prepared to appeal a denial.
It is also likely Treasure will be heavily debated during the City Hall election this summer and fall even though the winners of the mayor’s office and two Park City Council seats on the ballot are expected to have little if any role in Treasure. An earlier set of elected officials removed the mayor and City Council from a Treasure role in an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate a conservation deal for the acreage. The three candidates competing in the mayoral primary each expressed concern about the project during a recent campaign forum.
Two people indicated in interviews they are considering mounting campaigns for the Park City Council, a signal the City Hall election could attract an intriguing slate of candidates in a year when the majority of the five seats are on the ballot.