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Park City Planning Commission Hears Items That Continue Historic Preservation Debate

The Park City Planning Commission will consider items under the Flagstaff Development Agreement at its meeting Wednesday, continuing a conversation around historic preservation. 

A developer is looking to build a 28-unit residential condominium project at Empire Pass, an area that’s subject to the 2007 Flagstaff Annexation and Development Agreement. Park City Museum Executive Director Sandra Morrison, flanked by other community supporters of historic preservation, has taken to giving public comment for the record whenever an item under the Flagstaff agreement comes up at a city council or planning commission meeting. She argues anyone who develops under the agreement must stabilize the historic structures within the annexation area.

Planning Director Bruce Erickson says the question comes down to who has responsibility for maintaining the structures—the Empire Pass Master Owners Association or each individual developer. 

“If Ford Motor Company, for example, makes a deal with the National Transportation Safety Board to put in air bags, the Ford dealer in Cleveland is not responsible for managing that outcome—Ford Motor Company is responsible for developing that outcome," Erickson said. "That's the easiest explanation, where if you're a sub developer, are you responsible for the master development agreement? That's the questions being debated in all of the agencies, and with the planning commission, and with Sandra Morrison.”

A few items have come up through the Flagstaff agreement this year—the Twisted Branch subdivision, which the planning commission continued, and most recently the Nakoma Condominiums, the application of which the planning commission denied when they found it didn’t comply with the historic preservation requirements. The city council later determined the requirements didn’t apply and voted to approve it. Erickson says this is something the community and city government should debate.

“Almost all of our development agreements in the community require the developer to be responsible, without sort of a clear understanding that the developer may go away in the future," Erickson said, "and it may end up to be a master association or may end up being some other management company, rather than the developer who signed the development agreement in 1980.”

The city council has conceded it was a mistake to not enforce the requirements for preservation from the time the agreement was put in place. Erickson says the council will discuss how to proceed.

“City council will, at a policy level, direct us to determine who's responsible to resolve these issues, and whether the funding levels that we've developed in the memorandum of agreement are adequate, or the city council feels like they'd like to redirect additional funds to historic preservation.”

The planning commission hearing for the Empire Pass condominium is Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. The city council is scheduled to have a work session by Nov. 7 to discuss how to move forward.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.
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