Summit County, Park City, local businesses, and even the Crandalls need to be aware of where this is heading
I’ve watched over the past few months as a series of events seem to be unfolding around us. A common theme is that development is happening and people feel powerless to stop it. Not only that, it seems like development is happening and the rules have changed in ways to support INCREASED development.
Case in point is the Woodward at Gorgoza approval. Twenty years ago, it was approved as an outdoor recreation facility. Now we have approvals from our County Council and Planning Commission to enable Disneyland at Park City… or at least a Whole Foods sized building that was never allowed in the first place. The developers used the law to somehow get approvals for a building that is much bigger and taller than allowed in the Snyderville Basin. There are three appeals to the development, but my guess is they will lose. The Planning Commission ruled for it. The Planning Department allowed it. The County Council won’t rule against it. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done.
The second example is a proposed development beside the RV Park outside of Kimball Junction. It is zoned as rural residential, which means 1 home per 20 acres. However, it has passed the Planning Commission with a recommendation to allow housing, affordable housing, and retail on the space. WAIT, the Snyderville Basin General Plan says that there can be no increase in entitlements. An increased entitlement would be, say, allowing a whole bunch of houses and retail space in a place where there should have been one or two homes. So, what’s going on? There is a loop-hole in the General Plan that allows the county approve increased entitlements if it provides something important to the County Council. So, in this case the developer dangled “affordable” housing and it appears that enables pretty much what ever the developer wants. It’s our Kryptonite. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done.
The latest example is what is happening with the Newpark Commons space. That is the area by Maxwells where the four story condos are going to be built that will block-in the Amphitheater area where people enjoy music on Thursday nights in the summer. A group called Preserve Newpark tried to fight the development. According to Preserve Newpark, “The Commons at Newpark consists of 8 residential townhomes that are four-stories in height and a row of private garages on a private road. The building footprint and height is more than 200 feet long; 75 feet wide; and 43 feet tall, eroding public connectivity, visibility and access to the plaza. The proposed structure is so tall that it will block sunlight and views across the Newpark Amphitheater during prime evening, community gathering hours.”
But everything you know about the outcome was provided in a quote from Mathew Crandall, one of the applicants for the development. He said, “It was no surprise to us that we received a unanimous vote and recommendation because we had the land rights to do so.” Those land rights had been provided 15 years ago when you probably didn’t live here. What is granted now, though, may not be exactly equal to what was contemplated then. And of course, Summit County is allowing it.
One of the interesting things about the Preserve Newpark group is that they started early trying to fight this. Unlike many groups, who start near the end, Preserve Newpark had the foresight to begin early. They hired a person good at her job to try and influence the community and the outcome. They got community backing. Many, if not most, people agreed with them. Yet, it made no difference. Unfortunately there is really nothing that can be done.
The common theme is that there is absolutely nothing that can be done if you’re a normal person.
But there is something that can be done, and we have an idea of where this may go.
Do you remember the Park City trademark protests from a couple of years ago? Vail tried (sort of) to trademark Park City and everyone came out of the woodwork. Through former Park City Mayor Dana Williams (and others) that got resolved, but not without substantial efforts.
We’d guess something similar is going to happen with these developments. People will realize they aren’t supported by their government, so they will go outside that.
So, if you hate the upcoming Newpark development, what do you do? You boycott it. You boycott everything Newpark. You hit the owners of Newpark in their pocketbook.
You don’t shop there. You don’t buy from the businesses there. You abandon the Thursday night concerts and go to Canyons concerts instead. You don’t got to Maxwells. You don’t go to About Time. You get your hair cut at some other place besides Great Clips. You go to the Best Buy on 2100 South instead of the Best Buy up here. You go to Heber Bowl instead of Jupiter Bowl. You make BBQ at home, instead of going to Dickey’s.
Oh, you tell your friends. You make a stink on Facebook. You express opinions on Next Door. This bleeds into Yelp. You make sure Sundance visitors know that Newpark is a pariah. All of a sudden you’ve impacted the tourism market at Newpark too.
Then we are back to 2011 and everyone wonders whether Newpark can survive. Well, they could have if their owners weren’t quite so self-focused. Who owns a lot of Newpark? Yes, the Crandalls.
If your government isn’t on your side, then you vote with your pocketbook. That may or may not be enough. However, that’s all you got.
I think that is where this is heading.
When you leave people no choice and no hope, they take matters into their own hands.
If I owned Woodward, was planning on leasing space at the area by the RV Park, or owned one of the countless businesses in Newpark, I would be a little bit worried. When people feel helpless, they lash out. They’ll drive Maxwells
(which I think is great, btw) into the ground to save their view. They may also stop buying cars in Summit County.
Things are likely going to get a lot uglier in the Snyderville Basin and it’s due to the actions of developers that are concerned with themselves above the people. They have the rights and legal teams that enable them to manipulate the outcomes.
That works for them until it doesn’t.
We think the jig is about up.
What choice do people have?
While maybe they can’t prevent the monstrosity at Newpark from being built and they can’t stop even a bigger building at Gorgoza, they can prevent the next one.
I’d hate to own property or a business at one of these places. Social media is a bitch.
The next 18 months should be informative.
Note, the Park Rag is not necessarily advocating this approach.I frankly haven’t done enough research to know whether it is effective strategy or not. That said, the point of this article is to say that this tactic is one of the next logical steps the populace will take when they have no other recourse.