Guest editorial: Preservation was important part of Treasure deal
September 13, 2016
I am writing this letter in order to clarify the intent of the Park City Council in l986, on which I served. I have resided fulltime in Park City since l980 and was a council member from l985 to 1989. I also served as Mayor Pro-Tem in l988/89.
On Oct. 16, l986, after over a year and a half of deliberation by the Planning Department, Planning Commission and City Council, I voted "yea" on a very controversial action to approve the Sweeney Master Plan "Large Scale Master Planned Development" previously approved by the Park City Planning Commission, of which Brad Olch was then chairman.
The elected members of the City Council were myself, Jim Doilney, Tom Shellenberger, Kristen Rogers, and Jim Santy who was appointed by City Council to replace Al Horrigan who had resigned. Hal Taylor was the mayor.
The MPD is extremely detailed and complex, but briefly, we approved approximately 413,000 Square Feet of residential development with an additional 5 percent of specifically "support" commercial space. In addition, our approval mandated that upon approval and recordation, 110 acres of adjacent property owned by the Sweeney family would immediately be re-zoned Recreational Open Space, which it was.
Further approvals reduced the height limitation from a maximum of 95 feet to a maximum of 75 feet, and in some areas 35 to 45 feet. All of the minutes of the City Council and Planning Commission meetings, recommendations and ultimate approvals are public record, and I encourage anyone interested what was actually approved to read these documents.
As to the "intent" of the elected, appointed and employed City officials, the absolute goal was the protection, preservation and enhancement of Historic Main Street and the surrounding Old Town neighborhoods. The heart and soul of Park City was, and is today, Main Street and our Historic District. Saving Main Street — both economically and aesthetically — was always a goal. We faced many tough decisions in the late 1980s and 90s but none that threatened the fabric of our Historic District more than what is now called the Treasure Hill Master Plan.
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Here are some of the highlights of all those endless meetings and the final approvals.
1. The original proposed development on the Sweeney property called for over 400 units of residential development all across the western hillside above Park Avenue/Main Street. The approved "clustered" 413,000 square feet of development saved 110 pristine acres as Recreation Open Space. We knew that we were approving a very large project, but the preservation of the open space, combined with our efforts to protect and in fact enhance Main Street and Old Town with (at the time) much-needed lodging space for guests in both summer and winter, seemed a reasonably fair trade.
2. Nowhere does the approval guarantee the longevity of this project. In fact, the developer was required to meet "certain specific obligations" throughout the years, and as parcels were submitted for "conditional use approval" they had to "conform with the approved Master Plan (approved in October l986). Nowhere did the Council of 86 approve any possible increases in square footage, density, maximum heights, additional commercial space, or significant changes.
3. The Master Plan Approval was for support lodging/residential unit equivalents to bring guests to the Main Street commercial area. This was a residential, not a commercial project, and certainly not a conference/hotel project with extensive meeting spaces, restaurants and shopping that would be competitive with Main Street merchants. Quoting from the approved "development parameters and conditions" No. 3 explains that "all support commercial uses shall be oriented and provide convenient service to those residing within the project, and not designed to serve off-site or attract customers from other areas."
4. If indeed, as has been stated in previous Planning Commission meetings, "A Deal is A Deal", then the developer should pay close attention to the deal that was agreed to and approved in October of l986.