Restaurant application for Red Barn put on hold |

Restaurant application for Red Barn put on hold

An application for a restaurant in the historic Red Barn on State Road 224 is currently on hold. The proposal is for a 70-person café in the lower level of the barn. (Jake Shane/Park Record)

When Sean Wharton noticed a sign outside of the historic Red Barn on State Road 224 advertising a space available for rent, he approached the property owner with a concept for a rustic, historically-inspired café.

Wharton, a restaurateur and small businessman on the East Side, said he "loved the spot and thought it would be a really super-cool and unique location" to house the restaurant.

He signed a lease to use the lower level of the barn for a 1,750-square-foot restaurant and applied for a conditional-use permit with Summit County. The nearly 100-year-old barn is located at 1352 West White Pine Canyon Road off of State Road 224 and across from St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church.

"I thought it would be a fun project, nothing more," Wharton said. "The owner is trying to generate a certain amount of revenue and this was an avenue to make that happen."

Wharton applied for the permit under a new ordinance concerning historic structures in the Snyderville Basin Development Code. The ordinance eliminates the low-permit process and replaces it with the conditional-use permit. It also allows for an adaptive reuse of an historic structure for purposes such as a bed and breakfast inn, schools, home-based businesses and restaurants or delis without a drive-through.

"There is nothing in the code right now that preserves the building at all. They could tear it down as it sits today," Wharton said. "The trade-off is making an application for a new use in exchange for preservation of the building."

However, on Wednesday, Wharton said he is "officially putting the application on hold" until he can measure the amount of support he has on the project.

"If it’s not a win-win situation for everyone involved then I will not pursue the application. I’m just hanging in limbo waiting to make sure how the owner of the property wants to proceed," Wharton said. "It has to be a good fit for everyone that it could affect, including property owners, neighbors, the environment and traffic. Everything has to work right to make it a good project that is sustainable."

Earlier this month, Wharton met with the Basin Planning Commission to discuss his proposal and receive direction on how to move forward with it.

Planning Commission Chair Bea Peck said Wharton’s application is the first "real test" of the new ordinance. Peck said commissioners didn’t express any criticism of the project. However, they need more information.

"I think commissioners expressed, in general, that it could be a good spot for a café. I think we just have to be careful that we are not expanding the adaptive use of an historical structure further we anticipated," Peck said.

The building currently contains offices for Jack Thomas Associates, an architecture firm. The offices were approved through an adaptive reuse process under the old code in the late 1990’s.

When it was approved, one of the requirements stipulated a deed restriction would be placed on the building and it would be preserved as is, according to Ray Milliner, a Summit County planner. However, Milliner said "to the best of my knowledge it was never recorded."

"It is important to find out what happened to the deed restriction because if it was previously recorded we don’t need to go through this process because the building has already been preserved," he said. "If it has already been preserved then we don’t need to give them another use. The planning commission’s concern is that there isn’t any evidence to say that the deed restriction was recorded. If that’s the case then we probably need to go through this process and get the easements."

Another potentially controversial aspect will be transportation and parking. The Red Barn has a small parking lot with 12 spaces and the application proposes adding eight more.

"On their plan they showed 70 people max, but if you are going to have 70 people in there where will everyone park and will you have alternative ways for employees to get to work?" Milliner said. "Commissioners asked them to come up with a plan to show us how they will promote alternative modes of transportation to get to the place.

The project has not been rescheduled before the commission. Milliner said he will wait for Wharton and the property owner to "look at their options and then let me know how they want to proceed."

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