Council member on Whole Foods relocation: ‘I will still have night sweats and heartaches’
Moments after the Summit County Council unanimously approved the Whole Foods relocation to Landmark Drive, council member Roger Armstrong said he will still "have night sweats and heartaches" because of the project.
"I know we will have a traffic problem before 2040," Armstrong said. "I do have concerns about the traffic, but we are also getting substantial community benefits from this so there really is a balance."
The decision allows the grocer to relocate from Redstone to an 8.5-acre parcel north of Ruby Tuesday’s and Hampton Inn. At 43,000 square feet, the new store will be nearly double the size of the existing one. Whole Foods Market will be the anchor tenant on the property, adjacent to another building with 18,000 square feet of retail space and 20 affordable housing units.
For nearly two hours Wednesday, council members discussed the traffic impacts of relocating Whole Foods on Landmark Drive and the road’s ability to handle the extra traffic. Centercal Properties, the California retail development company in charge of the project, had requested a change in uses for the Canyon Corners development agreement about a year ago, which governs the property.
Council members were particularly interested in exploring the feasibility of installing a roundabout at the entrance of the development to mitigate traffic and correct a problem some members say exists.
Armstrong and council member Chris Robinson unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a way to include construction of a roundabout as part of the project. Council members were told by the developer and Derrick Radke, Summit County Public Works director, a roundabout would work at the location.
"I’ll accept what you’re telling me, but if you are wrong we missed it. We lost the opportunity to correct a problem and we will have people sitting and seething in their cars after this is built," Armstrong said after the roundabout was discarded.
One of the major components of Wednesday’s discussion addressed the county’s ability to review and potentially correct any traffic impacts after the project is complete. As the authority for Landmark Drive, the county has the ability to restrict turning in and out of the project in the future if necessary. The developer agreed to a traffic review in five years.
There was no opportunity for public comment Wednesday, although at a hearing last month, several residents testified both in favor and against the project.
Bea Peck, Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioner who attended the meeting, said she recognized that council members struggled with the decision as much as planning commissioners did.
"I think it was the best of a difficult situation and I don’t have any criticism of it," Peck said. "Hopefully our concerns don’t materialize. But I certainly recognized they struggled with it I think they did they best they could."
The inclusion of a traffic study was something planning commissioners had attempted, Peck said, adding the "the applicant wasn’t willing to do it at our level."
Alec Paddock, a development manager with Centercal Properties, acknowledged council members raised the same issues that planning commissioners did.
"We just needed to show them all the work that had been done and how important it was to us that this thing succeeds from a traffic standpoint," Paddock said in an interview with The Park Record. "Anytime you build a new project you are going to create traffic."
As part of the development agreement, the developer has agreed to contribute funds to jumpstart a Kimball Junction bus circulator and bike-sharing program. The developer will install a bus shelter outside at Whole Foods and has agreed to several improvements to Landmark Drive.
"Everything that is attached to this project is right for the community, including affordable housing," Paddock said. "It is our goal to be a partner in Park City and at Kimball Junction for the long haul and I think it worked out the way it should have."
Groundbreaking on the project is expected sometime in 2016.
To view the Summit County Planning Department staff report prepared in anticipation of Wednesday night’s council meeting, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/2456.
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The Coalville native doesn’t see any major roadblocks for this year’s fair, though presenting in front of the County Council is a little nerve wracking.