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Council Chair Kim Carson Weighs In On The Commons

Summit County council members are expecting the next time they are together with a full roster will be their September 12th session.

At that time, they will consider a decision on the Commons at Newpark, a proposed four-story residential building on the last undeveloped piece of ground in that sector.

An appellant group challenged the approval given to the Commons project by county manager Tom Fisher. Council’s second hearing on Wednesday went for two-and-a-half hours, as they heard arguments from both sides.

The council chair, Kim Carson, said they put off action since one council member Doug Clyde wanted to see some further documentation, and one other, Roger Armstrong, couldn’t stay for the whole hearing.

Carson said for this round, they did not ask the appellants what evidence they had for their case.

“For me personally it was a lot of the same information. We did ask for some clarifying information on whether there was very clear and specific language prohibiting, for instance, a fourth level or prohibiting residential on the ground floor or no residential in that main street area of the Newpark development.” Carson continued, “We didn’t get any clear evidence. There were a couple of documents that illustrated it, but it appears that was for illustrative purposes only.”

There was some disagreement between the appellants, and the deputy county attorney Dave Thomas, about what document governs the Newpark area.

“They had a very specific SPA book plan that laid out regulations and standards for things like commercial and retail on the main level. Especially in that Main Street area.” Carson explained, “It appears from what we learned from Dave Thomas that the general plan in effect at the time had some information specific to town centers and that has to provide--because it’s referenced in the development agreement--that has to govern, not the SPA plan book.”

One focus of the arguments is that Newpark’s Development Agreement does allow for changes to the original plan.

“It has what they refer to as a market conditions clause. That market conditions clause basically leaves it open for if thing change in the future like what the product mix should be.” Carson said, “Developers have the opportunity to make changes that may be different form that original SPA plan book. So, it’s tough.”

Carson said for herself, she’s concerned that with the numerous changes, they’re getting further away from Newpark’s original concept. While the area may be more marketable, it perhaps isn’t as function as was planned.

Carson added she wouldn’t want to see a “dark block” in the area.

“In that Main Street core area around the sun dial plaza you have street-level retail commercial space. This would create a block right in the very center of it that is residential and so you have garage doors and a front door that will take up this expanse. So, I consider that a dark front.” Carson continued, “You’ll never have the vitality of having businesses that could potentially go in there and restaurants and things that help create a really walkable, vital area.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covers Summit County meetings and issues. KPCW snagged him from The Park Record in the '80s, and he's been on air and covering the entire county ever since. He produces the Week In Review podcast, as well a heads the Friday Film Review team.
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