Quinn’s developer is ‘so frustrated’ | ParkRecord.com

Quinn’s developer is ‘so frustrated’

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Walter Plumb, a developer who wants to build at Quinn’s Junction, left a recent meeting at City Hall admitting he is "so frustrated" with the city government as he continues his efforts to build a sizable housing project at Quinn’s Junction.

After encountering questions and criticisms from the city’s Planning Commission, including aggressive statements from developer Rory Murphy, a new commissioner, Plumb charged City Hall uses a "subjective" process when it considers projects.

The December discussion foreshadows what could be a strained relationship between City Hall and Plumb’s development team. There have been ongoing talks about the project, known as Park City Heights, and a task force seated to consider the development dates to spring 2006.

Plumb’s side says it wants to proceed, but the Planning Commission, even after the work of the task force, is worried about the project.

The developers want City Hall to annex about 257 acres of land into the city limits near the southwest corner of Quinn’s Junction. Plumb then wants to be allowed to build 303 units — a mixture of regularly priced houses and restricted work force housing, with about half being the more expensive and the rest being set aside for workers.

The number of work force units — 146 — is larger than City Hall’s development rules require, meaning the developer, in a rare carrot, will put up more of the less expensive housing than he needs to.

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The developers, Planning Commissioners and City Hall staffers visited the site in December, poring over maps as Spencer White, who is a consultant for Plumb, pointed out where Park City Heights would be built.

During the recent meeting, though, Planning Commissioners were wary, saying the project might be too big. Murphy was especially critical, saying the development rules in unincorporated Summit County, where the land now sits, would forbid the project as it is designed.

Murphy, meanwhile, charged a study measuring how many people would drive in and out of the project is flawed and another study showing how much money the development would generate is inaccurate.

He wondered about the restrictions that would be placed on the work force housing, asked about water issues and asked whether the developers considered wildlife on the land.

Other Planning Commissioners had similar concerns, with Charlie Wintzer wanting more details about traffic on S.R. 248 and Michael O’Hara criticizing the blueprints as not advancing Park City’s long-held desire to portray itself as a rural mountain community.

Regular Parkites have had little interest in the talks about Park City Heights, and the land is not close to other neighborhoods.

An activist with the Wildlife Protection Society, though, told Planning Commissioners the land is important for elk and deer and urged more study of the effects of the project on animals. Wildlife discussions would be held later, a City Hall official told Planning Commissioners.

Annexations are often drawn-out affairs, with the Planning Commission and the Park City Council considering that sort of application before the elected officials decide whether to bring the land into the city limits.

The Park City Heights talks are even more complicated because the government is weighing the project against a strict set of standards that regulate development at Quinn’s Junction.

Quinn’s Junction is the largely undeveloped intersection of S.R. 248 and U.S. 40, and the vast acreage at the location has drawn lots of interest from developers. They see it as a smart place for expansion, but officials are worried about stressing the S.R. 248 entryway to Park City. Traffic on S.R. 248 frequently backs up as huge numbers of drivers who live on the East Side of Summit County and Wasatch County commute to Park City.

Plumb, the developer, acknowledged his side and Planning Commissioners are not close to an accord, but he said it would take time for Murphy and Dick Peek, another newly appointed Planning Commissioner, to be briefed on the project’s details.

He touts Park City Heights as being almost three quarters open space and having lots of work force housing, though.

"We’re not trying to ruin the mountain or ruin Park City," Plumb said.