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PCPC Hot Topics For Wednesday's Meeting - Tents, Gravel and RV Parking

Park City's Planning Commission meet Wednesday to talk about tents, gravel and RV parking.

515 Main St. – the North Face store - wants permission to put up a tent in their outdoor courtyard several times a year. Park City Planning Director Bruce Erickson said a conditional use permit is required because of the frequency of the request.

“They want to put a tent in there," Erickson said. "Normally that is an administrative conditional use permit but they want to have the same permitting that we have on the town lift plaza which enables them to do the tent more often.”

Even with a tent, Erickson said the business won’t be allowed to invite more people than the 49 occupants that are currently allowed under the fire code. Though the tent will be placed in a private courtyard, he said the city has to protect the surrounding businesses and neighbors.

“We care for a couple of reasons," Erickson said. "Not the least of which is the disruption of the HR1 neighborhood to the west in case they do music or outdoor events where there is a lot noise or smoke from cooking. The tent is actually set back behind the rock wall and behind the tree in that plaza so I don’t think it will be disruptive to the two historic buildings on that side of the street.”

The staff is recommending approval of the C-U-P which would allow the business to put up the tent for two weeks at a time – 15 times a year with a series of conditions that do not allow mechanical equipment to be used  for setup or takedown.

In other business, a work session for the use of gravel mulch as landscaping material will be held.

“We may have some draft, conceptual ideas on how to deal with it," Erickson said. "So for example in the historic residential districts – I think that in the side-yard setbacks where we’ve prohibited gravel in the past – we’ll probably go ahead and allow it. I think we’ll put a percentage of gravel on the front yard and rear yard and prohibit parking on gravel.”

Gravel he says is not native like plants are. So if we want our neighborhoods to look native, Erickson says residents need to use drought-tolerant plants.

“Gravel is just that. It contributes to the urban heat island – it migrates to the streets – it doesn’t do a very good job of taking care of neighbors unless it’s contained with a fence.”

Parking on gravel is another issue that Erickson says can get out of hand quickly and it’s the commission’s job to watch out for the community it serves.

“Honestly I think this has to do a lot with what we call, ‘The good neighbor syndrome.’ And the syndrome is – if you have your neighbors and you want to live in the neighborhood for 20 years you’re probably not going to go up to them and tell them, ‘Gee, that tree looks horrible,’ or ‘Gee, your yard looks horrible.’ You’re just going to ignore it and go on. So part of the role of municipality and protecting neighborhoods is taking on that good neighbor role and saying, ‘You need to be careful of your neighbors. You need to watch and see that you’re being respectful of your neighbors condition as well. So if you want to see cars and truck parked with blue tarps next to you, then you’ll go ahead and allow this continuation of parking.”

Gravel he says does have a role for landscaping and for breaking up vegetation types to prevent wildfires from expanding. But for parking – he says it’s not allowed.

“All of those oils and fuels and things from your car leak down and make it impossible to clean up. The perfect example of that is the parking garage here at China Bridge. Just walk through that garage and see how much oil is spilled. And if you really want that in your ground water – or if you want it at Prospector in the contaminated soils – we’ll continue to use gravel as a solution for where to park.”

For those who already have gravel in their yards he says the city will work with them.

As for RV parking – Erickson says city council wants to be more flexible and allow residents to park their recreation vehicles at their homes during the summer, but the city also needs to balance the neighborhoods’ concerns.“We’re bringing forward a proposal right now where a person could park their RV or their boats or their motorcycles or their snowmobiles or whatever, in their properly located driveway. Typically in front of their front yard garage from November 1 to April 1. You would have to maintain two cars of off-street parking and you would have to maintain access to the garage because we don’t want to increase the amount of the cars on the street because we’re allowing RV parking in the front yard. On the side yard I think we’re going to allow it but we need to maintain access to the rear yards. Fences are allowed up to six feet between neighbors so I think we’re going to put a height restriction on the vehicles in the side yard that would be somewhere between nine and ten feet high.”

To park an RV on the side of your home he says a concrete pad and a 6 foot fence between you and your neighbors will be required.

Erickson says Wednesday’s discussion will be very open since it’s the first time commission has had a chance to talk about it.