The Summit County Council on Wednesday voted unanimously in favor of the Commons at Newpark proposal. They upheld the County Manager’s approval of the project, and turned down an appeal against the Commons.
Council members said they were not enthusiastic about the plan, but it is not specifically prohibited under the Development approval for Newpark.
The developers, Gary Crandall and his sons Matt and Ryan, propose a building over 40 feet high with seven townhomes, located on a site west of the Newpark amphitheater, which the Crandalls also own.
The Commons was recommended by the Snyderville Planning Commission and approved by County Manager Tom Fisher earlier this year. A group called “Preserve the Newpark Plaza” principally including business owners with the nearby Newpark Hotel, filed an appeal. They said the commons was out of compliance with Newpark guidelines, chiefly by having four stories and by not having commercial on the ground floor.
Council member Roger Armstrong said he searched through the Development Agreement for Newpark, and couldn’t find a plain prohibition on the number of stories, or what kind of development has to take place on street level.
Armstrong said this case is a hard one.
“It’s one that I think we wish was not going to happen where it’s going to happen. It’s near an amenity and a gathering spot in the community that’s become very popular and has sort of redefined itself as a gathering spot as a community location. I think that members of the public are very concerned about the impacts of this development on that. If I had my wishes I would probably have a conversation with the Crandalls and say we would like you to do it differently, but it’s your piece of property and this is the way you’ve decided that it needs to be done for your economic recoupment.”
He said the Development document allows a lot of flexibility and is set to a large degree in vagueness.
“Because it was drafted with a large degree of flexibility and that’s repeated again and again and again and again in the development agreement. Some of the language in the development agreement is drafted in such a way as to be vague and somewhat uncertain. I’m not sure that’s accidental versus a decision. I think that some of the vagueness in the development agreement supports the notion of that flexibility.”
Council member Doug Clyde said his position is similar to Armstrong’s.
“I was extremely concerned—am extremely concerned—about this development. I think that it does have a detrimental effect on a public node of the Newpark development that we I think as a county commission are very concerned with keeping alive. The public node of course being the main street, the commercial that leads down to the open space building to the plaza. All of those sorts of things. I think that the appellants argued, I think very persuasively, that the intent of the agreement was to have store fronts on those properties.”
Clyde added though that in several instances, Newpark has been changed, contrary to original intent.
Council Chair Kim Carson said she had the same concerns, but ultimate conclusion, as her colleagues.
“I still have concerns about the four stories in that location. I have concerns about not having any commercial. I would have loved to seen even some element of commercial at some point. I did recognize the flexibility in the agreement and that’s obviously been utilized in the past for other development parcels in that area.”
After the council’s official decision However, Clyde asked the developers if they could consider placing at least a tiny amount of commercial on the ground level.
Some council members asked the Crandalls, to consider legally preserving the amphitheater space in perpetuity. The Crandalls attorney, Justin Keys, suggested they could talk about the property in a council work session. The council suggested that discussion should start with the staff or the Snyderville Planning Commission.
Council member Glenn Wright expressed the hope that the two sides in the dispute can work together.
“You folks, Newpark and Crandalls, you’re all neighbors here at this point. I think you all want this to be a very successful gathering place and a successful place of business in our community. I think there are things you can do to work together on this. Crandall’s had requested a very small easement form Newpark, if given I think that would enhance the footprint and the traffic flow through that area. As my counterparts have said we would certainly like to see some kind of—it would be beneficial for that entire area to—preserve that amphitheater. Hopefully you guys can get together after we finish today shake hands and become really good neighbors.”
Before their decision, the council deliberated in a closed session. Deputy County Attorney Dave Thomas said that under a Utah Supreme Court decision, the council can meet in private when they’re acting in a quasi-judicial capacity.