Worker housing vote appears imminent
A critic of City Hall’s bid to build a work force housing development on the edge of Snow Creek recently told Park City officials they would be "sinking" money into the project, known as the Snow Creek Cottages, if it is built.
Nancy Solomon, one of eight people from Windrift Lane or Saddle View Way challenging the development, suggested to Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council the money that City Hall would use to build the housing could instead be spent to help qualifying people buy places. City Hall estimates designing and building the project will cost between $4 million and $4.5 million.
Solomon did not provide details of the proposed loan program for people eligible for work force housing. She offered the idea toward the end of what has been a drawn-out dispute between her side and City Hall.
The City Council on Thursday could render a decision on the appeal. The eight neighbors based their appeal on concerns such as the effects on nearby waterways, impacts on wildlife and disruptions of their views. People in other neighborhoods are interested in the appeal as well, and Williams and the elected officials have heard testimony from project supporters and critics.
The city’s Planning Commission earlier approved the development, allowing 13 houses on a portion of the site, 2060 Park Ave. The neighbors appealed the lower panel’s approval to the City Council. The undeveloped land sits directly east of the Park Avenue police station.
Solomon on Monday said her side is continuing to crunch numbers in anticipation of the Thursday meeting. She said it appears about 36 people could receive assistance in buying places under the scenario she proposes. She said people receiving loans from City Hall would be required to pay them back when they sold the places they bought with the assistance.
"You get to help three times as many families. That’s the obvious one," she said, referring to what she sees as the benefits of the proposal.
She called the idea a "win-win" arrangement since people would receive housing assistance and the land would be kept as open space under the idea. Solomon and the others listed on the appeal want the land to remain undeveloped.
The 36-person figure is significantly downgraded from the 60 to 120 people Solomon mentioned during earlier testimony.
Solomon, meanwhile, said it is better for workers to live in neighborhoods, as would be the case if financial assistance was offered, rather than a development set aside for them. She said she is researching housing availability in Park City and the Snyderville Basin, but she said she does not intend to discuss the topic on Thursday.
The City Council is scheduled to continue its talks about the project at a meeting starting at 6 p.m. in Room 205 of the Park City Library and Education Center. A meeting agenda does not set aside time for public testimony.
City Hall has long supported the theory that Park City would be better off if more rank-and-file workers lived locally, saying there would be less traffic and more economic diversity, among other benefits. Opponents, though, often worry about increased traffic on roads close to the developments and falling property values.
In an interview, Jim Hier, a member of the City Council, challenged the idea for a loan program, saying City Hall cannot provide enough home-buying assistance in Park City’s resort-driven real estate market.
He said there are few homes for sale in Park City for less than $500,000, making the idea impractical.
"There just aren’t that many distressed properties around," he said.
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