Jay Hamburger wrote this story in the April 18, 2015 edition of the Park Record and it is worth a read if you haven’t already seen it.
The flurry of email correspondences arrived at City Hall just days before the Park City Planning Commission was poised to make a recommendation about a divisive proposal to rewrite a section of the municipal government’s detailed development rules.
It was expected to be one of the pivotal votes the influential panel would make in 2015, one that had the potential to stifle a California firm’s idea to redevelop the Kimball Art Center property into residences and commercial square footage. The Planning Commission on April 8 voted to forward the proposal to rewrite a section of the rules to the Park City Council with a negative recommendation.
The panel made its recommendation after a closely watched discussion that touched on a series of topics that illustrated the difficulties of developing in Old Town. The correspondences received by City Hall detail the broad nature of the opposition. The municipal government released the correspondences in response to a request by The Park Record under state open records laws.
The California developer, LCC Properties Group, wants City Hall to loosen the development rules to increase the building height allowed at the location from 32 feet tall to 45 feet tall. Such a change, which would be made to a document known as the Land Management Code, would essentially increase the height restriction from three stories to four stories.
Many of the people who wrote correspondences to City Hall seized on the developer’s desire to increase the height restriction.
Some of them mentioned the dramatic discussions between the municipal government and the Kimball Art Center itself that resulted in the not-for-profit organization scrapping an idea for a redevelopment and putting the property on the market. Park City officials turned away the Kimball Art Center’s proposal for an expansion onto the patio just off the Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection. LCC Properties Group intends to buy the property. The deal has not closed. A few of the people who wrote City Hall used the acronym KAC while referring to the Kimball Art Center.
“Please once again stand strong and let this new tenant that is taking over the KAC understand there are rules to be followed because that is what the people who have lived here for years want. We don’t need a big building we don’t need to try to be New York, Paris or Rome. All three ARE beautiful cities that I love….but this is a mountain ski (resort) ..this is a historical town…please do not let them forget this,” Marisa Durham wrote on April 5.
The next day, Janet Goldstein Fuller sent a message noting the previous discussions between City Hall and the Kimball Art Center. She said in the message the developer’s application “must be denied, for reasons and arguments that have already been worked over and finally, and officially, determined.”
“Just because a new and hungry developer walks into town, does not mean that everyone has to drop everything that has gone before, on behalf of the latest developer who thinks his operation deserves special treatment. Once again, it is a situation of having new people, particularly developers, come into this wonderful historic town and try to remake the town in a manner that the newcomer prefers, or perhaps, just believes from which more profit can be obtained,” Fuller said in the message.
None of the 21 correspondences released by City Hall was in support of a change in the rules. The developer received limited backing from the public during two important meetings that were held recently — the Planning Commission meeting on April 8 and a separate session involving the Planning Department in late February. The two meetings focused on different aspects of the LCC Properties Group proposal.
The City Council is expected to begin its discussions in early May. It seems likely there will be another round of correspondences to City Hall as the elected officials deliberate. The City Council is not bound by the Planning Commission recommendation.
Excerpts from some of the other correspondences include:
- “The present codes for the KAC area should not be changed. The majority of the citizens of Park City certainly made that known during the last attempt to build on the KAC property and those proposals were turned down. Please do that again,” Frank and Lani Furr
- “Our zoning restrictions are put in place for a purpose; to maintain the character and personality of our charming town. I have been a resident in Park City since 1977. I feel until this time that our town has grown up well, maintaining the original character and individuality in old town that it had when I arrived here. We are at a crossroads, as has been stated by our own leaders in Park City. We can maintain the unique character of Park City, or we can change to just another postage stamp ski town, like so many others,” Dianne Sanchez
- “I see no justification for granting a variance to this party and feel that the 32′ limit should be closely adhered to. It saddens me to think that there might be an exception made for one request and feel that by granting this exception you would be opening a can of worms for other prospective developers,” Shirley Smith
- “PLEASE do not allow the new owners of the KAC to change the height limits! This is the same problem as before. It was not anything against the Art Center….my opposition is to raising the height limits ANYWHERE in Old Town. Once they go up, everyone will want to go up and I DO NOT want Park City to look just like every other tunnel-like city. I would not even allow what is currently on Main Street had it been up to me,” Marilla Magill
- “The 32′ restriction was created for a reason. Caving to the greed of a developer is wrong. Planning guidelines and rules are designed to protect our city from bad ideas that can permanently cause harm. And for what? A developers profit? Planners: please do your job and disallow this request for a height increase,” John Vrabel