Panel forwards positive decision on Newpark townhome project
The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission forwarded a positive recommendation on Tuesday night for a townhome project in one of the last undeveloped lots in Newpark, despite strong community opposition.
The application for the Commons at Newpark shows a seven-unit building in the space south of Maxwell’s East Coast Eatery in the Newpark Town Center. It is currently occupied by a parking lot adjacent to the amphitheater.
The planning panel unanimously agreed to make the recommendation following a public hearing at the Sheldon Richins Building. Summit County Manager Tom Fisher will now review the project and make a decision about whether to approve the final plat and site plan.
Matthew Crandall, partner of applicant Crandall Capital along with his brother, Ryan, said he was confident going into the meeting that the Planning Commission would endorse the project.
“It was no surprise to us that we received a unanimous vote and recommendation because we had the land rights to do so,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, though, that some people do not like the project, but I understand their concerns.”
Matthew and Ryan Crandall’s father, Gary Crandall, is the proprietor for all of the property south of the Newpark Hotel, including the amphitheater, obelisk and surrounding property, including the property where the building will be built. However, Matthew Crandall said he and his brother are in the process of purchasing the site.
The development rights for the property were approved in December of 2002. The development agreement stipulated that any proposal would only be required to go through a final subdivision plat and site plan review process. Crandall said the project does not stray from what was originally approved.
“There were vested rights in the property, and we are not trying to change anything about them,” he said. “We are just trying to develop it within those parameters. I understand there are going to be growing pains because we are the last piece of the puzzle.”
Those opposed to the project have said it will encroach upon the Newpark Town Plaza and reduce one of the only gathering spaces in the Kimball Junction area. The amphitheater has grown increasingly as a communal spot during warmer months with outdoor concerts frequently hosted there.
A website dedicated to opposing the project urged Planning Commissioners to reject the application. An online petition attached to the website amassed more than 1,400 signatures.
Commissioners had asked the applicants prior to the meeting to consider re-orienting the building so it wouldn’t obstruct activities at the amphitheater. The Crandalls met with the Planning Commission on four separate occasions, including last night, to review the design and layout of the project. The Crandalls presented a new layout for the building on Tuesday.
“The changes that we made to the project are that we removed one of the units, which reduced the footprint of our project significantly,” Crandall said. “We also rotated the building 180 degrees. This makes the building much more interesting architecturally. It also allowed us to push the structure further south and increases the view corridor as well as connectivity to the plaza and amphitheater.”
Crandall said public and commissioner input has “increased the quality of the project.” He added, “We appreciated the commissioners and even the public who has been opposed to this project.”
“We love that they enjoy our property, and we hope that they will continue to enjoy the property,” he said.
Planning Commission Chair Canice Harte said the positive recommendation was based off of the new configuration. He said it presented a more refined version of the variations the commission has been reviewing over the last several months.
“Other than the option where the condos are not there, if they are going to be there this is probably the best configuration,” he said. “It will be different and it will take over some of that space and change the feel and the character, but the landowner had a right to build on their property.”
The project, Harte said, was a classic example of a situation where developments rights have already been granted, which reduces the authority of the Planning Commission.
“Everyone probably wishes something else would have been put there. My first choice would be for a park,” he said. “But the project met the development agreement and standards, at least by our interpretations, and it was something we had to go forward with.”
Harte noted, however, that the project is somewhat in conflict with what the Kimball Junction Neighborhood Master Planning Committee is trying to achieve. For nearly a year, the committee has explored ways to improve the area through enhancements such as making visual quality a top priority and creating connections between the businesses, residences and amenities.
“We have identified that as an ideal public space, but it seems to go against that even though they had the right to build it,” he said.
The Crandalls have said they are committed to increasing connectivity in the area with more sidewalks, adding built-in seating, vegetation and redesigning the amphitheater. Construction could start as soon as the summer and be complete within a year.
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