Letters: City ridgeline mistake sets a bad precedent
City sets a bad precedent
From the moment you drive past the iconic historic White Barn entering Park City on S.R. 224, you can look up and see an eyesore of an unfinished home sitting almost on the very top of the Finnegan’s Bluff development ridgeline. This hill and ridgeline separates the post office area and Park Meadows. How did this get approved in the first place? How did the city let it get this far before people started noticing and complaining? In correspondence with the city, they say it never should have been approved, and the person approving it no longer works for the city. Now damage control is being done through a compromise with the builder who ignored the rules. The top layer is to be removed, allowing the rest (that still exceeds the ridgeline by a lot) to remain. Someone just pushed the limits, and got a little too greedy here.
As residents and taxpayers we take pride in our city. We have rules that were intended to prevent breaking the ridgelines and littering the top of our hillsides with houses. Do you want to look up and see the tops of mountains, or a row of rooflines? Residents paid for and supported numerous bills to preserve and keep our open space open. We all expect the city to enforce the laws and ordinances we have in place to deny approval of something as obvious as this. It seems that builders and developers get their way a bit too much in Park City. The other homes in this development seem to fully comply. This non-compliant home site should never have been approved in the first place.
Compromising here because the city made a mistake sets a very bad precedent.
Protect our quality of life
On the proposed Kimball Junction development, A previous op-ed correctly observes a successful tech center is questionable in Park City. Established companies do pay astronomic rents and high salaries in super-expensive Palo Alto, Cupertino, San Francisco. Yet startups seek inexpensive offices, skilled workers, affordable housing. This would work for an Apple/Google/Oracle location. Not a small company.
Yet the statements made in favor of the Dakota Pacific development proposal are nonsense. No one believes a mixed-used, high-density development mirroring the other side of Kimball Junction will do anything but double traffic. Some residents may use local transport or live out of state. But it’s fantasy to think this will not mirror the traffic mess across the way.
The critical issue is traffic. There is no way to expand the Kimball Junction/I-80 area to handle the existing traffic flow, let alone its doubling. There is no room for more lanes, a second freeway entry/exit, a complete bypass. In summer, traffic backs up onto the freeway. In winter, an eternity to drive 5 miles to the Canyons. Dakota Pacific doesn’t even pretend to offer solutions.
The truth is there is no development in this location that will meet community and developer goals. Were it possible, my choice would be to acquire the land for open space. Or a Jeremy Ranch-type development with golf course and 1-acre homes. Or lastly a targeted technology park. I am completely opposed to a high-density proposal based on a no-traffic-impact fantasy.
We live in a large county. I would task planners to protect our quality of life; if high-density developments are unavoidable, it’s sensible to build where infrastructure can be planned and new freeway access is available. Building at Kimball Junction would not.
I have appealed the amended permit determination for 955 Saddle View Way — new construction on the ridgeline in Finnegan’s Bluff.
The city say it will “fix” the situation by having the top story removed, adding square footage to the main level and requiring certain cosmetics.
This is not an acceptable solution as it will merely return the structure to the same height it was before the city began receiving complaints, and it will also give it a larger footprint.
By its own admission, “Starting in the spring of 2020, the City received complaints about a residence under construction at 955 Saddle View Way. The partially built structure clearly stands out in contrast to other homes in the subdivision and the nearest ridge line.”
Why did the city not take action at that time, March/April, to stop construction and investigate complaints? Why wait until matters/expenses multiplied?
Why were the visual analysis “vantage points” mostly from a ways off and no consideration given to those of us “up close and personal” where the structure appears to be on and above the ridgeline? The city’s concern appears to be with views from the entry corridor and a distance but this structure will be far more obvious to visitors and locals when they are hiking/biking nearby trails.
In addition, not much consideration appears to have been given to the purposes of the “Sensitive Lands Overlay.”
The city’s excuse for the height of the structure — “likely the permit issued in late 2019 was done so in error due to an oversight by a then-staff member of the Planning Department because the visual analysis demonstrates that the proposed structure would extend past the ridgeline in a manner that is visually intrusive.”
To my knowledge, ongoing inspections are supposed to be carried out on new construction. Did the inspections reveal nothing untoward?
The city appears to have compounded the initial error and likely cost taxpayers a substantial sum to arrive at an unsatisfactory non-solution.
Mural harms business community
One of the most disturbing things about the decision to install the Black Lives Matter mural on Main Street was the failure of the city’s leaders to discuss this plan of action with the business owners who have been impacted by the mural. Our local businesses are suffering from the problems caused by the coronavirus, and the installation of a controversial mural that offends many customers damages their business prospects. Did the mayor and other city leaders simply not care about the concerns of the business owners?
Although there is no formal boycott of Main Street businesses because of the mural, its presence provides an incentive for those whom it offends to avoid the downtown area.
Fortunately, there is broad support throughout the country for better, fairer treatment of Black citizens by the police. But because radical groups, like Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, have used this support to promote controversial policies, there are doubts by many about this movement.
I do not know what the economic views are of Park City’s mayor and City Council members and if they are sympathetic to the extreme socialist views of many in the Democrat party. My impression is that their primary recent achievements have been to raise taxes, spend millions of dollars to purchase property so it wouldn’t be developed, to spend next to nothing on needed housing for low-wage employees while preventing a transportation project needed to deal with gridlock on S.R. 248 that burdens commuting workers. Before long there will be no place to park at the main base of Park City Mountain Resort without paying $20 or more per day, and there is no indication that Park City’s government is doing anything to help deal with that problem.
I realize that politicians don’t like to admit that they have made a mistake, but defacing Main Street with a controversial virtue signaling mural was an error, and the sooner it is gone the better for our businesses and community. It is nothing more than a distraction from our real problems.
F. Joseph Feely III
Stick to the rules
When I moved to Park City in 1983 this was an intimate little town nestled in a valley surrounded by unobscured mountains and star-filled skies. Obviously what Park City has become today is considerably changed but still a wonderful place to live with those same mountains presiding over us.
One item of concern that has remained consistent with guidelines over the years is the preservation of the mountain ridgelines. The topic of great concern when I moved here in 1983 was a concrete home in construction on the Aerie. Clear encroachment of the ridgeline was visible from nearly anywhere in town. As memory serves, the city/Building Department determined that this home encroached on the ridgeline according to the guidelines, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 to 8 feet of concrete was sawed off to mitigate the problem.
There is a clear encroachment of the ridgeline by a home under construction on Saddle View Way. How on earth did this happen? The location is highly visible in an “entry corridor.” The fact that the home was approved at all in this location is mystifying. The mitigation of this clear infraction is complicated but I believe the message that needs to be sent is that encroachment of a ridgeline is unacceptable. If an exception is made in this instance it could set a new precedent for building going forward.
Our town and county feel like they are exploding with growth. Please, stick to the rules and protect the beauty of unbroken ridgelines in our beautiful mountain community.
Mistakes or deliberate actions?
What is Park City becoming or what does it want to become? Recently I was made aware of the controversy concerning home construction on Finnigan’s Bluff. Last year I questioned how a house on the bluff passed the ridgeline or light ordinances of Park City. I was told it had to because it received all the permits. Now we learn that the more current house, even more of an eyesore, clearly does not meet at least the ridgeline ordinance due to a “clerical error.” The city has been less than forthright in responding to numerous questions about the construction, stating it would have the construction “substantially conform” to the code. It either does or it does not. Anyone in the city with knowledge of the codes should have been able to view this building and know it did not meet code but no one spoke up. The architect and builder certainly should have known in was not in compliance before starting construction. Yet nothing was done until recently. In the meantime, we learn that the south end of the Park City Golf Course is not on the preservation list of parks because it might be needed for roads to support the buildings in the current resort park lots. More roads, more high-cost housing, more traffic? Are these just mistakes or deliberate actions for the direction that Park City wants to take. The beauty of the surrounding hills, trees, and open lands that have been kept are what makes Park City a really unique and enjoyable place to live. Do we want to eliminate the pretext that it is important to Park City to keep these things and just move to a more urban design to support more high-cost housing? What we want Park City to be in the future needs to addressed before we lose what can not be recovered.
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Two members of the Park City High School Climate Action Now Club call on the School District to a 100% clean energy goal.