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Treasure Hill could bulge

Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

With neighbors already unhappy with the size of the Sweeney family’s Treasure Hill proposal, the developers may be forced to add almost 50 more units to the project to comply with City Hall’s affordable-housing guidelines.

Pat Putt, the Planning Director, recently issued a report indicating that the Sweeneys are required to build 47 units of affordable housing and that the family, which has been in talks with the Planning Commission for more than two years, has not yet submitted plans for those units.

The chairman of the Planning Commission said in an interview that the affordable-housing requirements should have been addressed previously and Pat Sweeney, who represents his family, said that he was surprised by Putt’s report. Putt did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. His report covered a range of Treasure Hill issues with the housing being among them.

Putt said in the report that a preliminary calculation of the affordable-housing requirement put the number at 47 units. He said that the Sweeneys would be required to submit a plan for the employee housing units before City Hall staffers recommend whether the application should be approved or denied.

In a spreadsheet explanation of the affordable-housing requirement, City Hall indicates that the residential part of Treasure Hill requires 42.3 units of affordable housing, measuring 800 square feet each. The commercial part of the development requires four such units, according to the spreadsheet, which has been submitted to Planning Commissioners.

The affordable-housing calculation potentially could further divide neighbors who have consistently argued that the Treasure Hill plan encompasses too many units. They are especially worried about increased traffic on streets like Lowell and Empire avenues.

The Sweeneys want the Planning Commission to approve about 282 units, including condominiums, townhouses and hotel suites, and 19,000 square feet of commercial space. The 282 units do not include the 47 identified as affordable housing.

The government in the 1980s approved the overall Treasure Hill project as part of a wider development application, which included other Sweeney properties like where the Caledonian was later built.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to resume its discussions about Treasure Hill and hold a public hearing on Wednesday. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Park City Council’s chambers at City Hall.

In an interview on Tuesday, Sweeney said he planned a private meeting with City Hall staffers, including City Attorney Mark Harrington, to review the affordable-housing requirement.

He said, up until about a month ago, the family was proceeding under the belief that the affordable-housing calculation did not apply to Treasure Hill. He said staffers had previously indicated that was the case. Sweeney said his impression of City Hall’s affordable-housing guidelines was that they applied to developments such as those approved in connection with an annexation of land.

Sweeney, for instance, said the affordable-housing requirements did not apply to the Caledonian.

"It was a bit surprising to us, too," Sweeney said about the report.

Sweeney said adding the 47 units to Treasure Hill would be "tough" but that the project’s designers could find the space if they needed to.

"It would not be monumental. It would definitely be significant," he said.

Should the government determine that the units must be built, Sweeney said he prefers that they be constructed on the Treasure Hill grounds.

He said he would want people working at Treasure Hill to have first priority, followed by people who work on Main Street and then Park City Mountain Resort employees. In each case, the workers would likely not drive to work, he said.

Jim Barth, the chairman of the Planning Commission, said the affordable-housing discussion should have occurred previously, saying, "no ifs, ands or buts about it." He said he would have preferred the discussions as long as two years ago.

He said at least some of the units should be located on the site and that he would "leave (the design) up to the site planners and architects."

"Obviously it’s going to be a matter of looking at what they propose," Barth said.


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