Park City leaders on Thursday received testimony raising questions about whether voters later in 2018 would support a ballot measure to fund a deal to acquire a 50 percent stake in Treasure, illustrating continuing concern about the prospects of a bond that may be put to Parkites in November.
The idea that voters may reject what would be a $24 million ballot measure to fund most of the $30 million price tag has loomed over the discussions that have unfolded in recent weeks. A deal would hinge on the vote. Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council on Thursday continued their discussions about Treasure, but some of the testimony from the audience seemed especially important as the public weighs the possibility of a ballot measure.
There have been sporadic mentions of a Park City School District bond rejected by voters as people cautioned City Hall officials that a ballot measure to fund a Treasure deal may not succeed. That topic was again broached on Thursday.
Steven Swanson, a Treasure critic, was one of the speakers on Thursday that noted the School District bond. He said the failed bond in the School District showed that an open and public process is needed. Swanson also said the School District learned that a “concentrated minority of voters” impacted the results.
“In 2015, the district found out by a resounding defeat of their bond. So, if we don’t want to repeat that, I suppose my biggest suggestion would be to open the process up as much as possible. I understand maybe that’s beginning. That’s a good thing,” Swanson said.
He added that Park City is a different entity than the School District, which stretches well outside the Park City limits to incorporate the Snyderville Basin as well. The mayor told Swanson officials want the Treasure process to remain as transparent as possible.
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A leading Treasure opposition figure on Thursday told Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council people in Park City would support the acquisition of all of the development rights attached to the hillside land, a buyout option the opponents have long desired but one that appears highly unlikely in the weeks after City Hall negotiated a different agreement.
Park City officials addressed Treasure on consecutive days this week as the Planning Commission discussed the project on Wednesday followed by the elected officials on Thursday. The meetings were cordial, something that was particularly notable so shortly after a series of tension-filled Planning Commission gatherings about Treasure. The mayor and City Council earlier in December negotiated an agreement calling for the municipal government to acquire a 50 percent stake in Treasure for $30 million.
The agreement hinges on voters in Park City approving a ballot measure in November to raise the funds needed for the acquisition. If the deal is finalized, City Hall would acquire the Sweeney family’s stake in Treasure while the other side of the Treasure partnership, a firm called Park City II, LLC, would rework a scaled-back development proposal.
It appears there is concern within the Treasure opposition that voters may not authorize the $24 million needed to reach the $30 million total since half of the development rights would remain intact even if the ballot measure passes. City Hall’s popular open space program over the years has been used to acquire land outright or otherwise conserve acreage in perpetuity rather than reducing the scope of a project as in the case of the Treasure deal
Brian Van Hecke, with a group called the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, on Thursday told the elected officials the tone of the discussions is positive. He said the public would support the acquisition of all of the development rights, but additional rights would remain for a project under the agreement between City Hall and the Treasure partnership. He inquired whether a deal was available to acquire 100 percent of the development rights and asked whether the sides considered tapping a municipal program that allows development rights in certain locations to be shifted to another spot deemed better suited for growth. Van Hecke mentioned the parking lots at Park City Mountain Resort as a place where the Treasure development rights could be shifted.
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A prominent figure in the Treasure opposition group said the best outcome of the late-hour negotiations between City Hall and the development partnership would be the preservation of the hillside land as open space.
It would be a scenario the critics of the project have long desired but one that seemed highly unlikely until it was acknowledged on Wednesday that Park City officials and the Treasure side have been engaged in closed-door talks about an unspecified agreement regarding the project.
The Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition has led the opposition to the development proposal, forming in response to the discussions about the project, sending representatives to testify at Park City Planning Commission meetings over the years and retaining a law firm to press Treasure issues.
Brian Van Hecke, one of the founders of the group and an Empire Avenue resident, said in an interview the desired result of the negotiations is the preservation of the entire property as open space. The Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, would “receive a fair return on their investment that honors their property rights, their true property rights.”
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Park City residents were told they would have a final opportunity for public comment at Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting on the Treasure Hill conditional use application. As it turned out, residents will still have one more chance, but no one is happy about it. KPCW’s Melissa Allison tells us why.
The Park City Planning Commission discussions about Treasure, which have stretched for more than a decade with several starts and stops over the years, appear to be fast approaching a finale.
The panel on Wednesday held a lengthy meeting about Treasure and, toward the end of the evening, briefly addressed the timeline. It appears there could be three more meetings with Treasure on the agenda, and a vote could be scheduled at the third one. It will be perhaps the most significant development vote by the panel since the 1990s era decisions regarding the project that was eventually built as Empire Pass.
The Planning Commission indicated it would discuss Treasure at a meeting on Nov. 29, followed by a special work session centered on Treasure on Dec. 6. The Planning Commission would then be expected to cast a vote at a Dec. 13 meeting. The timeline, which is tentative, leaves less than a month before the landmark vote would be cast.
The discussions date to 2004 and have stretched through numerous Planning Commission rosters. A vote on Dec. 13 would ensure Park City Councilor-elect Steve Joyce, who is a member of the Planning Commission, is one of the panelists to decide Treasure. The City Council has kept the current lineup of the Planning Commission intact to ensure there are not changes in the membership amid the Treasure discussions.
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Park City Planning Commission Chairman Adam Strachan discusses last night’s meeting on Treasure Hill.
See link below. Interview with Adam starts at 15:30.
The excavation planned as an initial step in the construction of the Treasure development proposal would stretch longer than a football field backward from the property line, prompting more criticism from project opponents concerned about a wide range of Treasure issues.
The excavation would run as many as 409 feet from the property line to the back of the project land, according to the Park City Planning Department. It would be as deep as 135 feet without counting additional depth needed for the foundation work, the department said. The excavation of Treasure would be one of the largest in Park City and has drawn additional attention recently as project opponents worry about the impact on the hillside.
The Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm known as Park City II, LLC, wants to secure an approval for nearly 1 million square feet of development on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The Park City Planning Commission is scheduled to continue its discussions on Wednesday and is expected to address the excavation again.
Pat Sweeney, who represents his family in the talks, said the partnership intends to keep the excavated material on the Treasure land itself, in a location known as Creole Gulch, or on nearby land identified long ago by the Sweeney family and Park City Mountain Resort. A “modest amount” of excavated material would also be brought to the King’s Crown run at PCMR, he said.
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