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Sunday building continues

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF
Crews building eight houses near the Town Lift do not work on Sundays. The Park City Council recently decided to allow Sunday construction in Park City to continue. There was a discussion about banning the practice. Grayson West/Park Record
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Marianne Cone hears the echoes of hammers and backhoes bouncing through Old Town, even on Sundays, from her house, perched on Prospect Avenue at the southern end of the neighborhood.

Cone, a member of the Park City Council, was interested in adopting a regulation that would have banned construction in the city on Sundays. Others on the City Council disagreed, though.

"It’s still noisy. There’s not a quiet time you can count on," Cone says. "People just say it’s getting to the point they can’t stand it."

The Building Department in early October approached the City Council with the possibility of changing the rules to institute a Sunday ban.

The elected officials were worried with some of the consequences, including whether homeowners would be barred from doing fix-it work on Sundays. The idea was not brought to a vote and it seems that the Sunday ban will not be brought back to the elected officials for more discussions.

But that City Hall considered such a restriction is intriguing in a community where the construction trade is huge business and neighbors are usually wary when crews arrive to start a project.

City Hall allows construction Mondays through Saturdays from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. On Sundays, the government restricts construction to between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

In a report to the City Council, Michelle Downard, who enforces codes for the Building Department, argues against the Sunday ban but acknowledges that neighbors would benefit if it were enacted. She says in the report that there would be less noise, less traffic, fewer deliveries and fewer vehicles parked near a construction site on Sundays.

There was little input from regular Parkites as the City Council nixed the idea and it did not receive widespread publicity. The City Council discussion was not lengthy but Cone suggested that, perhaps, a Sunday ban could be placed on "really big stuff." The others did not support the idea.

"I think, basically, (it’s) a dead issue," Mayor Dana Williams said.

A booming industry

Park City’s construction industry is booming in 2006, up 75.6 percent from 2005 through September, the Building Department reports. Through the end of September, the department had authorized $142.8 million in construction.

Scores of Parkites are somehow professionally linked to the industry and in the city there are several high-profile developments under construction, including Empire Pass, which is on the slopes of Deer Valley Resort.

Still, Ron Ivie, the city’s chief building official, reports that the government rarely receives complaints about Sunday construction and says that lots of construction crews already take Sundays off.

"Most people like at least a day off a week. Most take Sunday," he says.

He told the City Council that, over two years, the city received five complaints about construction crews violating the city’s rules. All of the complaints, he said, alleged that crews were beginning too early, not that they were working on Sundays.

The Building Department, meanwhile, sometimes allows crews to work longer hours, such as when lots of concrete is scheduled to be poured, Downard says in her report.

The construction industry needs to work on Sundays, says Gary Hill, who is the president of the Park City Area Homebuilders Association, adding it would have been a poor decision had the City Council adopted the ban.

"There’s a lot of people who still work on Sunday," Hill says. "There’s so much going, on trying to get everything done, keep everyone happy."

He wonders whether a Sunday ban would have been extended to indoor projects, a topic that the elected officials also broached, and what sorts of crews would be stopped. He questions, for instance, whether lawn-care businesses would have been governed by a rule.

"It’s hard to pin down what trades would be shut down," Hill says, adding that he usually does not work on Sundays for religious reasons and to spend time with his family.

In her report, Downard notes that crews working on major projects in the past needed the Sunday hours. She says the Marriott Mountainside at Park City Mountain Resort fell behind schedule but opened for the 2002 ski season after crews worked on Sundays.

She says that City Hall projects like the expansion of the China Bridge parking garage and the Quinn’s Junction recreation complex also benefited from crews working on Sundays.

Ivie warns that construction timelines could be extended by as much as 15 percent if a Sunday ban was in place.

"I think it was the wise choice," he says.

David Belz, a developer who is building eight houses on Park Avenue and Woodside Avenue near the Town Lift, one of Old Town’s larger projects of 2006, says his crews have not been working on Sundays. Belz, though, wants that option.

He says delays in obtaining approvals for projects and construction delays sometimes force builders to work more than expected. Park City’s early winters also might influence construction crews to work on Sundays, he says.

"There’s always something that comes up that will drag you out until later," he says.


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