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The clock is ticking on an option to buy down the density of the proposed 1 million-square-foot Treasure Hill project adjacent to Park City's historic district. But a citizens' group claims that details of the deal remain too murky to put before voters.
In 1986, the Sweeney family was granted approval for a 415,000 square foot development on their land west of Lowell Avenue near Park City Mountain Resort's Creole ski run. But several years ago, the family submitted the 1 million-square-foot proposal, which has not been approved.
Park City officials are conducting a survey to see if residents would support a $15 million bond to buy down 25 percent of the original Treasure Hill plan, which includes a luxury hotel, conference center, condominiums and retail space on 12 acres. The remaining 112 acres of Sweeney land would remain as open space.
The $15 million deal also would include moving another 25 percent of the building density north to land near Park City Mountain Resort.
But a group called Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, or THINC, says it isn't clear whether the 50 percent reduction on site applies to the 1 million square foot proposal or the original one. They maintain the square footage in the deal hasn't been specified.
City officials say the 50 percent plan refers only to the original plan, but concede the final square footage has not been spelled out specifically and could be somewhat higher than 50 percent of 415,000 square feet.
The city council must decide by Aug. 25 whether to put the bond measure on the November ballot. The council could begin discussing the option as early as Aug. 11 at its regularly scheduled meeting, said Mayor Dana Williams.
THINC member Brian Van Hecke said the $15 million option should delineate the exact building density, given the developer's history of seeking additional square footage.
"The key thing is, all the facts should be known before anything goes on a ballot," he said.
There is another option that THINC would support: Spending about $50 million to buy all the building rights from the Sweeney family. The acreage then would be preserved as permanent open space.
But that option doesn't appear to have as much support as the $15 million proposal, said city councilwoman Liza Simpson.
Despite some media reports, the Sweeneys have not agreed to a dollar figure for building nothing, Simpson said. A figure of $48 million had been floated, she said, but the Sweeneys turned it down.
Simpson did concede, however, that the $15 million option does not yet specify how much square footage the Sweeneys could build at Treasure Hill, because it would require the planning process to start over.
"The important thing to remember is any revised plan has to go before our planning commission for approval," she said. "I can't imagine a scenario where the planning commission would approve that kind of increase," she said referring to Van Hecke's estimate of half of the 1 million square feet.
Park City officials have been negotiating behind the scenes with the Sweeney brothers, Ed, Mike and Pat, for about a year.
The talks began after the Park City Planning Commission put on hold the Sweeney's application for a conditional-use permit. Among concerns voiced by residents during commission hearings is that Lowell Avenue, a small two-lane residential street that is the only access route, could not handle auto traffic produced by the large project.
The city council initiated the talks because officials feared that if the commission turned down the project, the Sweeneys would seek redress in court, leaving Park City with a legal settlement as a planning guideline.
Speaking for the Sweeney family, Ed Sweeney said he would not comment while negotiations with Park City are ongoing.