Summit County Council upholds Newpark condo project’s approval
September 14, 2018
The Summit County Council unanimously agreed on Wednesday to uphold the approval of a contentious condominium project in Newpark, allowing the developers to move forward with the building's proposed design and construction.
After a brief discussion in closed session, County Council members chose to reject an appeal challenging County Manager Tom Fisher's decision to grant the final plat and site plan for the seven-unit building. Chief Deputy Attorney Dave Thomas said the County Council was allowed to deliberate in closed session because of a judicial exception to the Open and Public Meetings Act.
The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission forwarded Fisher a positive recommendation for the project in February.
"This is a hard one and the hardest ones are always the ones that are the most controversial in the community," said County Council member Roger Armstrong. "It's one that, I think, we wish was not going to happen the way it happened."
Developers Ryan and Matthew Crandall are building the seven-unit, four-story building on the last undeveloped parcel in Newpark. The residential building is going to be located in the space south of Maxwell's East Coast Eatery, adjacent to the amphitheater. Gary Crandall, their father, currently owns all of the property south of the Newpark Hotel, including the amphitheater, obelisk and surrounding property.
Members of Preserve the Newpark Plaza, LLC, filed the appeal on June 28. Preserve the Newpark Plaza, LLC, represents different property owners within Newpark, including a homeowners association. The appeal claimed the building, particularly its height and lack of commercial space, violated Newpark's development agreement.
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But, County Council members contended the development agreement did not specifically prohibit residential units from being located on street level. They called the document's language "somewhat problematic."
"It was drafted with a large degree of flexibility, and some of that language is drafted in such a way to be vague and uncertain," Armstrong said. "In Utah law you are bound by the plain language. You are entitled to do something with your land unless it says you cannot."
Armstrong said he is not "completely enamored" with the project. But, he recognized the Crandalls have the ability to develop their property as they wish.
County Council Chair Kim Carson said she still has concerns about a four-story residential building without any dedicated commercial space on Center Drive, Newpark's main street.
"I would have loved to see some element of commercial, but I did recognize the flexibility in the agreement," she said. "That has obviously been utilized in the past for other developments in that area, so I support the decision of the county manager."
Chris Eggleton, managing director of Destination Hotels Utah and member of Preserve Newpark Plaza, LLC, said he wasn't surprised by the County Council's decision. He said the main reason Preserve Newpark Plaza, LLC, appealed the application was to ensure the building met the architectural design and town center intent of the development agreement.
"I accept the conclusion of the County Council," he said. "I have spent nearly 15 years working on Newpark so it was personal. It was meaningful. The process of the appeal was never meant to detract from their rights. We were really just seeking for better compliance. In the end, there is nothing more that we can do. The plaza has always been a very important piece and the heart of the community, and the heart of the town center. We were just pushing with some passion and conviction to preserve that."
After the decision was rendered, County Council members asked the Crandalls to consider preserving the amphitheater as a gathering spot and open space.
"We appreciate that you have allowed the public to enjoy that area as a gathering spot and, perhaps, at some point in the future that could be formalized," Armstrong said.
Ryan Crandall said he was confident all along the County Council would rule in their favor. He added, "I'm really grateful for the County Council for going through this process."
Crandall said they will consider the County Council's input, adding "We want to be good neighbors." The County Council's decision allows the Crandalls to record the plat and apply for a building permit. Crandall was uncertain whether construction of the building will start this fall or next spring.
"I want to be developing here for a long time and I don't want to burn any bridges," he said. "If we can incorporate some of their suggestions, then we are willing to do that. We want to make everyone happy, not just ourselves."