Treasure reckoning could come in April
February 12, 2010
The Park City Planning Commission indicated on Wednesday it could cast what would be a landmark vote in April on the Sweeney family’s idea to build Treasure, a fast-approaching reckoning date for a project with a history that dates to the 1980s.
The panel requested City Hall staffers prepare for the possibility of a Treasure vote at an April 14 meeting, the next time the development is tentatively scheduled to be on a Planning Commission agenda. A request of that significance had not been expected on Wednesday, but Planning Commissioners indicated that they could be prepared for a vote in April should the Sweeneys not propose major alterations to the development.
The family has not appeared willing to make wholesale changes to the blueprints since doing so several years ago. It seems that the Planning Commission could be leaning to a ‘Nay’ vote if one is cast in April.
The panel members have consistently criticized the Treasure designs along various points, including the size of the buildings and the measures the developers have said they will take to reduce traffic heading to and from the site. The concerns continued on Wednesday, with one of the Planning Commissioners, Charlie Wintzer, saying he would rather have more of the development pushed toward the interior of the Treasure land instead of having it close to tightly packed Empire Avenue and Lowell Avenue, on the edge of the development site.
An April vote would come six years after the Planning Commission began its discussions about Treasure. The talks largely occurred over two stages, with the one still ongoing being far more contentious than the earlier one. Treasure has become the most highly charged development proposal within Park City since the talks that resulted in Empire Pass unfolded in the 1990s.
In an interview after the Wednesday meeting, Pat Sweeney, who represents his family, said he prefers a vote be pushed back from the April 14 meeting, contending that his side needs to be able to provide the Planning Commission more information about topics like the anticipated excavations at the site.
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"If they want us to wrap it up and vote on it, we need more time," Sweeney said, adding that he wants to provide "clear and complete answers" to the Planning Commission concerns.
Sweeney acknowledged that a ‘Nay’ vote could be forthcoming given the panel’s comments. He said it is not clear what sort of alterations could be made to Treasure in the meantime to increase the chances for a vote in favor of the development.
The decision rests with the Planning Commission, but it is likely that the vote, whether it is ‘Yea’ or ‘Nay,’ will be put before the Park City Council in some fashion. The elected officials hold the authority to override a Planning Commission decision and cast their own vote. A Planning Commission vote is also something that can be appealed to the City Council. If the Sweeneys are disappointed with the Planning Commission decision, they could appeal to the City Council. If project opponents are displeased with the lower panel’s vote, they could do likewise.
The Sweeneys are seeking an approval for 200 hotel rooms and 100 condominiums on a hillside overlooking Old Town. It would be situated on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort. The family in the 1980s won an overall approval for development at the site and nearby parcels but now must secure more permits before the project could proceed.
Approximately 100 people packed into the Park City Council chambers at the Marsac Building on Wednesday, a large crowd even for Treasure standards. Mayor Dana Williams and three members of the City Council were in attendance, a rare showing of elected officials at a Planning Commission meeting.
The debut of a detailed model of Treasure and the surrounding neighborhood at the Wednesday meeting was highly anticipated, and it seemed that many people in the crowd were there to see the model. Planning Commissioners studied the architect’s creation followed by people in the audience, who were allowed to approach the model in small groups.
The Planning Commission held a hearing lasting one hour on Wednesday, listening to roughly 20 people. Treasure opponents dominated the hearing, as they have previous ones. They touched on topics like the size of the buildings in Treasure, with some of the structures proposed to be among the largest in Park City, and the effects the project will have on the historic character of Old Town.
"All I’m going to see is buildings. That’s the only view I have left," said Jane Toly, who lives on Empire Avenue, adding, "I think a beautiful view is a mountain hillside."
Brian Van Hecke, a leader in the Treasure opposition movement, said Treasure is "intolerable" and "simply does not fit."
A smattering of support on Wednesday included a comment from a Main Street business owner talking about the prospects of Treasure propping up sales on the street.