Treasure developers, dramatically, intend to force a vote
Partnership wants decision in October after years of discussions
The Treasure partnership on Wednesday indicated it intends to essentially force a Park City Planning Commission vote on the project in October, an unexpected statement that presses even more drama into the long-running talks about one of the most polarizing development proposals in the city’s modern era.
Pat Sweeney, who represents his family in the partnership, delivered the comments to the Planning Commission. He said the request for a vote will be made in August. The request in the summer will trigger a timeline that, according to the Treasure side, will lead to a vote in October.
The Planning Commission did not respond to the statement in any depth. A request for an October vote, though, could add urgency to the Treasure discussions in a broad sense as the Planning Commission, the Treasure partnership and the opposition move forward.
The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured development rights on the Treasure hillside, overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift, and nearby parcels of land. Treasure is now under the ownership of a partnership involving the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC. The discussions about the current Treasure proposal, involving upward of 1 million square feet, started in 2004 and have stopped and restarted several times over the past 13 years. The round of talks now underway began nearly a year ago.
The Treasure partnership last April outlined a timeline that called for a vote in late September of 2016. The Planning Commission was not bound by the timeline and has instead spent significant time on topics like the square footage and, more recently, traffic. The panel does not appear to be nearly ready to cast a vote as it has not started discussions about other topics. Treasure is on the Planning Commission agenda once a month. The next meeting about the project is scheduled on April 12.
In an interview after the meeting on Wednesday, Pat Sweeney, who represents his family in the Treasure discussions, said City Hall staffers, members of the Planning Commission and people who live in Old Town desire more talks about the project while the partnership is prepared for a panel vote. He said a formal request for a vote is “our only exit door out of this process.”
“That’s just a merry-go-round. If we want to move on, we have to request a vote,” Sweeney said, adding about the Planning Commission, “I don’t think they’ll ever be ready for a vote . . . We’re ready for a vote.”
The Planning Commission roster has changed significantly over the years of the Treasure discussions. Only one member, Adam Strachan, was on the seven-person panel when the talks were last halted. The changes to the roster likely extended the talks over the past 11 months as the new members learned the details of the proposal.
A Planning Commission vote is expected to trigger an appeal regardless of the decision. If the panel approves the project, the opposition will almost certainly file an appeal. Should the Planning Commission cast a ‘Nay’ vote, the partnership would mount a challenge.
An appeal of a vote such as the one that will be made on Treasure would normally be put to the Park City Council. A past City Council, though, removed itself as the appeal body to engage in what were ultimately unsuccessful negotiations with the Treasure partnership for a conservation deal. It would have been a conflict of interest if the City Council negotiated for a conservation deal as well as serving as the appeal body. A Treasure appeal would be put to a three-member panel appointed by the City Council.
The Planning Commission on Wednesday, meanwhile, continued to forge ahead on its review of Treasure, talking about issues like parking and transportation. The panel also heard from project critics. The testimony has been weighted heavily toward the opposition over the years.
The Treasure side described measures it will take as part of the design to reduce the amount of traffic headed to and from the site. The Town Lift will be replaced with a high-speed, four-person lift coupled with a people mover called a cabriolet that will carry passengers from Main Street. The developers will also improve stairs at 6th Street and 8th Street to make it easier for pedestrians to travel between the Treasure site and Main Street. The Treasure team said hiking and bicycling trails as well as easier skiing terrain accessing the site are part of the plan.
“If people are willing, they can use their feet,” Sweeney told the Planning Commission about the routes between Treasure and Main Street.
He said the cabriolet would operate from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily with later hours possible on weekends. Sweeney said the cabriolet perhaps could run all night during the Sundance Film Festival.
Strachan questioned the number of trips by vehicles the cabriolet would eliminate. Sweeney said a Treasure traffic consultant would provide the information at a later meeting. Steve Joyce, another Planning Commissioner, mentioned that commercial spaces and meeting space at Treasure need to be addressed in the discussions about traffic and parking.
The City Hall planner assigned to Treasure, Francisco Astorga, told the panel there is concern in the Planning Department about how the parking at Treasure is managed. He said more details are needed about whether drivers not staying at Treasure will be attracted to the parking there, a scenario that is worrisome to officials.
The Planning Commission received a little more than 30 minutes of testimony from six speakers who covered issues like parking, pedestrian safety and the cabriolet proposal.
Kyra Parkhurst, an Empire Avenue resident and critic of Treasure, worried about parking on Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue and questioned how Treasure parking restrictions will be monitored. She said the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists and skiers is important.
“It’s not just cars and trucks going up there,” Parkhurst said.
John Stafsholt, who lives on Woodside Avenue and is another opponent, told the Planning Commission the cabriolet will be “detrimental to the neighborhood.” He said it would be a benefit for the developers.
“What about noise . . . What about light pollution,” he said.
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State Sen. Ron Winterton sponsored a bill last year that boosted film tax incentives across the state, but as interest in filming TV shows and movies in Utah continues to grow, he’s now taking the effort a step further.