The Park record Editorial Aug. 13-16, 2008
It might seem like a small gesture, but the Park City Council’s decision to authorize a six-month ban on new demolition permits for historic houses in Old Town is an important one.
The ban, approved at an Aug. 7 council meeting prevents any further demolition permits from being granted for structures built before 1962.
The measure passed 4-1 with council member Jim Hier saying he preferred hold off on the vote until the public had more time to comment on the matter. However, waiting could have triggered a run on requests for permits by property owners trying to beat the deadline.
Council members are hoping the temporary zoning regulation (TZR) will give them time to review the city’s current criteria for razing old buildings before issuing new permits.
Typically, demolition requests are rare, but since Park City’s inventory of old buildings is shrinking, the council wanted to ensure that it could protect any potentially historic structures from the wrecking ball.
Last spring, preservationists were upset that an old home on Sandridge Avenue was leveled. In previous years, several demolitions have been controversial and, in some cases, public opinion, along with support from the Park City Historical Society, have been instrumental in saving a building.
Park City’s cachet as a tourist destination relies heavily on the town’s charming historic character. That ambiance, however, doesn’t come from a single structure but from a critical mass of quaint miner’s shacks (now carefully restored homes and offices) and mining-era commercial buildings.
The loss of a rundown old dwelling might not seem like a big deal, but when considered as part of the intrinsic character of the city, every structure counts.
Since the city council members cannot make laws on a case-by-case basis, it makes sense to allow them the time to craft an overall policy that will be fair to property owners but will also place a high priority on preservation of every last one of Park City’s remaining historic structures.
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Park City officials are preparing to take what is considered to be an important step in protecting the Treasure land from wildfires. City Hall in early June requested proposals from firms interested in the work.