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Planning commission to finalize Park City affordable housing project

The Homestake parking lot that will serve as the site for the housing development.
Parker Malatesta
The Homestake parking lot that will serve as the site for the housing development.

A project that would bring over 100 apartments to a parking lot near the Kimball Arts Center and Boneyard Saloon could have construction permits soon.

The Homestake affordable housing project, which is a public-private partnership between a developer and Park City Municipal, would create 99 affordable rentals and 24 market-rate rentals.

The Park City Planning Commission unanimously approved plans for Homestake in October, but now must ratify the development agreement Wednesday night so building permits can be issued.

But three of the five commissioners hit the pause button at their meeting March 22. They delayed approving the agreement because they are concerned the nearby substation could see a voltage increase. The possibility of the substation tripling in voltage was briefly mentioned in a February city council meeting.

A professional review found electric and magnetic field readings at the site are “far below what is widely considered as harmful levels.”

According to a staff report, an engineer with Rocky Mountain Power has conclusively told the city there are no plans to increase the voltage at the property. The substation was studied to be upgraded in the past, but the blueprint never moved forward. In addition, Rocky Mountain Power has explored relocating the substation, but those plans were eventually scrapped.

Still, some commissioners aren’t satisfied, despite giving Homestake unanimous approval. At the last meeting, commissioner Bill Johnson said he thinks the EMF exposure at the property isn’t safe.

The chair of the planning commission, Laura Suesser, did not sign the final action letter for the project, which is typically signed by chairs. She also recused herself from the most recent discussion, without citing a reason.

A November email from commissioner John Kenworthy says he thinks the city’s legal department should prepare liability forms future tenants can sign due to EMF exposure.

Despite the concerns the commissioners raised at the last meeting, it may be too late. The staff report notes that all reconsideration and appeal deadlines for the project have passed, and the commission should not revisit terms of its prior approval, including the components of EMF.

The Wednesday meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at city council chambers in the Marsac Building. The full agenda and a link to attend virtually can be found here.

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