Planning Commission talks water-wise landscaping and is split on allowing winter balcony enclosures

PARK CITY, Utah — The Park City Planning Commission met on Wednesday with several discussions on the docket, ranging from a potential update to the City’s Landscaping Code to a pilot program on winter balcony enclosure for non-historic balconies on Main Street.

Potential City Landscaping Code Changes

With the ongoing conversation about being water-wise, city planning officials presented potential changes to allow landscaping that requires less supplemental irrigation. 

The discussion’s main focus was to make stipulations under the code clear and informative to residents who are considering re-landscaping their yards to become water-wise.

The proposed changes come from a September 23 direction from the City Council for the Planning team to consider and identify potential changes to the current Landscape Code, with an eye toward improving water conservation to prepare for the landscape rebate pilot program (Cash for Grass) being implemented spring of 2023.

Recommended changes from the Planning team included altered verbiage to make regulations clearer and easier to understand, and adding more information on the city website to inform the public.

Commissioners questioned the definition of the difference between rock and gravel sizing as the actual purchasing language would be different from someone talking with a quarry, for example. The approved plant list was also described as very limited and would provide challenges to residents. 

The presenting staff now has a more formal timeline for finalizing changes to the code and landscaping website to help residents by the upcoming October 26 Planning Commission meeting. Should the Commissioners give their approval, staff will then present the changes to City Council on November 17.

Potential continuation of the Temporary Winter Balcony Enclosure Pilot Program

Under the current program, businesses on Main Street are allowed to enclose their balconies that are non-historic starting on November 15 through April 15. The goal of the program is to provide additional seating while replacing the need for tents. A key consideration, however, is the historic preservation of Main Street was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. 

The planning staff requested the Commissioners to recommend how best to proceed to help businesses while retaining the vibrancy of Main Street. Options given were an extension of the pilot program, an amendment to the Land Management Code (LMC) for winter months, or an amendment to the LMC allowing the use of temporary enclosures year-round.

To date, only the Riverhorse restaurant has taken advantage of the program, and even so, it is presently in violation of the program as the temporary enclosure has remained outside of the timeframe. 

During the vote against the process for the continuation, Commissioner Johnson, Frontera, Sigg, and Van Dine voted against continuation, while Commissioners Kenworthy, Hall, and Suesser were in favor of potential stipulations added to help with the enforcement of the rules or allow businesses in other areas to participate. The tent ordinance will be reevaluated at a later date.

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