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Commons At Newpark Might Get Decision In Mid-September

Summit County

After hearing further arguments over the proposed Commons at Newpark project, the Summit County Council Wednesday put off a decision, for various reasons.

Given the council’s schedule, it looks like the next time they can meet, with the full council present, will be in three weeks on September 12th.

The proposal from developers Gary, Matt and Ryan Crandall, for a building with seven townhomes to the west of the Newpark amphitheater, got approvals earlier this year from the Snyderville Commission and county manager Tom Fisher.

However, a group called, “Preserve the Newpark Plaza” appealed the project.

On Wednesday, the attorney for the group, Andrew Blonquist, again said that the project doesn’t follow the principles laid out in Newpark’s Specially-Planned Area Plan book.

He said the SPA stipulates that a building can’t be over three stories, while the Commons is rising to 43 feet. And the floor level facing Newpark’s Main Street has to be commercial, not residential.

The Crandall’s parcel was originally set to be commercial. While the SPA Plan can be changed because of “Market Conditions” Blonquist argued that the change still has to follow the principles of a Town Center.

On the other hand, Deputy County Attorney Dave Thomas, representing the county manager, noted that the nearby Newpark Hotel, which was developed by some of the appellants, doesn’t follow the restrictions on height, or a floor level having to be commercial. He said that under Newpark’s Zone 1, standalone townhomes have been built. There have been many changed in the area due to “Market Conditions.”

In the end, as council considered a motion, Council member Doug Clyde said the discussion had brought out that there’s more documentation that he needs to see, and he couldn’t come to a Yes vote for the Commons without it.

“In spite of the fact that I’ve done my best to read the thousand plus pages that are here I just found out tonight that I am missing key documents. Which would be, the general plan that was in effect at the time and an analysis of whether the changes in that general plan change the actual approval and entitlement of this project. Those are big questions. Those are huge questions. I was looking inside of the SPA for the notion of what were the principles that the project was to be designed to. What Dave tells me is that those are not principles, they’re standards.”

Meanwhile, council member Chris Robinson said he was ready to make a motion for the Commons and turning down the appeal. He said there’s plain language in Newpark’s development approval that allows for flexibility in the area.

He said he would have to see something very, very compelling, which he hasn’t seen yet in two hearings, to overturn his position.

“We could debate this until the cows come home, we could read the general plan, a lot of other stuff. I think we don’t need to look a whole lot further than right here in my opinion. It’s been changed many many times. I don’t think that seven townhomes at street level violate the principles of a true town center. Nor do I believe that a shoddy process led to this conclusion. I think that it’s been an arduous process of multiple DRC meetings, multiple planning commission meetings, multiple iterations of site plans, layouts and configurations. This didn’t happen in a corner at midnight, it’s happened over a long period of time.”

Council member Glenn Wright said he tends to agree with Robinson.

“The appellants claim that there’s a prohibition for townhouses which doesn’t exist. The appellants were complaining about the four stories, but the actual SPA document says that you can go to 43 to 45 feet. So, if these guys had proposed a three-story building at the same height, with the same look on it, we wouldn’t even be having the discussion. I don’t even think we have to even consider the market condition clauses.”

Another complication on Wednesday was that council member Roger Armstrong had to leave in the middle of the hearing.

Next week, the council will meet, but some members will be absent then too. Then there’s no meeting on the first Wednesday of September, due to City Tour. That pushes the next meeting on the Commons to September 12th.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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