Sweeneys: Treasure Hill fits | ParkRecord.com
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Sweeneys: Treasure Hill fits

by Jay Hamburger

The Sweeney family returns to the Park City Planning Commission Wednesday to present details about how Treasure Hill buildings would be situated within the project.

But the Sweeneys also will probably continue to try to convince neighbors that the project will not attract too much traffic, long the chief concern of those who live on nearby roads.

Treasure Hill is among the most controversial development proposals the city has considered in the decade and, after two years of Treasure Hill discussions with City Hall, the Planning Commission may be nearing its pivotal vote, Kirsten Whetstone, the City Hall planner assigned to the project, said Monday.

She predicted that, after Wednesday’s meeting, the Planning Commission would likely hold Treasure Hill hearings on Jan. 25 and Feb. 8, with a vote potentially scheduled on Feb. 22. Wednesday’s meeting is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. in the Park City Council’s chambers at the Marsac Building.

On Wednesday, Whetstone said, commissioners are scheduled to review the proposed site plan, such as where the buildings would be located and how tall they would be. She said the commissioners will also likely address a plan to ensure that the construction is done in a manner that lessens the impact on the neighborhood.

She said that the Sweeneys, since the discussions started, have made some alterations to the plans, such as redesigning what is planned to be the biggest building in the project. It now is taller in the back but it presses against the hillside, which is meant to make it less obtrusive.

The Treasure Hill application requests about 282 units, like condominiums, townhouses or hotel suites, and 19,000 square feet of commercial space. The residential units would range in size from 650 square feet to about 2,500 square feet. The units would be split between two sites on the 11.5-acre swath of land — Creole Gulch and what is called the midstation parcel. Both are on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort, on a hillside just west of Old Town, nearby the Town Lift.

The Sweeneys hold rights at the site stemming from a 1986 overall approval of the development parameters. The 1980s approval means that, unlike lots of other development applications, the Planning Commission is not deciding whether to allow the project but instead considering the details of the proposal. Should the application be denied, the Sweeneys would continue to hold the 1980s development rights and could return with a new design for Treasure Hill.

Whetstone said the average height of the buildings proposed at the midstation site is 25 feet and the average height of those envisioned at Creole Gulch is 45 feet. Those heights are allowed as part of the 1986 approval, she said. The shorter buildings are proposed for the front of the project and the taller ones would be built into the hillside, she said.

"They’re not asking for any height. They’re not asking for any density," she said.

But people living on streets like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue are displeased with the application, worried especially about the amount of traffic that Treasure Hill would attract to the neighborhood. Engineers have determined that the streets are adequate to handle the expected Treasure Hill traffic but the neighbors remain unconvinced and have testified at length during past Planning Commission hearings.

The Planning Department on Monday released a set of correspondences sent to the government regarding Treasure Hill that outlines concerns that have been broached at previous meetings.

Four people living at 844 Empire Ave. question the findings of the traffic engineers who determined that the roads are adequate.

"To see evidence of the inaccuracy of this grossly oversimplified model, one need only look outside at the carpet cleaner’s van currently stuck in a snowbank outside my window, or watch as 4-wheel drive vehicles slide one after another into the curb as they try to turn left, or right, at the intersection of Empire and Crescent Tram during a snowstorm," the four wrote.

They also worry about pedestrians having to jump out of the way of trucks and semi-trucks getting into accidents.

"And what of the inconveniences of having to park much farther from home, or waking up either too early or too late to the sound of semis rumbling outside our windows, which would be roughly seven feet from our heads? It just doesn’t seem right," they wrote.

The Sweeneys have spent months responding to the neighbors, maintaining, like the traffic engineers, that the streets are adequate.

In an interview, Pat Sweeney, who represents the family, described the revised plans for the Treasure Hill buildings. He said the overall height of the buildings has been reduced, including the family accepting that, generally, each building story in the project would be 10 feet, six inches high instead of 12 feet.

"In a sense, we made some volume disappear," Sweeney said.

He also maintains that the original 1980s approvals were based on what he sees as the best plan for the site, noting, for instance, the "natural camouflage" of Creole Gulch.

"The alternative would have been a new Old Town road, an American Flag-, Aerie-type of road," he said.

Sweeney, meanwhile, disputes the neighbors’ assertions regarding traffic, saying that the roads would not be as heavily traveled as is feared. He said, perhaps, there would be 10 trucks each day making deliveries to Treasure Hill once it is built.

"It’s not like there’s going to be a line of Sysco trucks," he said, adding, "You can count them on two hands. There’s not going to be a line of trucks going up and down the street for a project this size."


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