"I don't think we have all the information we need to tell us how we want to go," Council Chair David Ure said. "Whichever way we rule I think we set a precedent of what's going to go in down the road. And I'm not sure I want to set that precedent under the present guidelines without specifying where I want those guidelines to go."
Councilmember Chris Robinson added that if they interpret the development agreement beyond what it says, he would rather do it in an amendment form and have a broader discussion.
"I'm trying to figure out how it serves the county to have such narrow language in the development agreement," Robinson said.
According to the Tech Center development agreement, the Tech Center is supposed to be solely for facilities related to research and technology.
The development agreement also allows incidental uses that support the park's tenants, such as restaurants, banks, financial services and health care facilities.
"Incidental uses means those uses which are directly linked to the service needs of the research park and will not primarily generate offsite trips," County Planner Kimber Gabryszak said.
Gabryszak said that if the proposed tenant, Commerce CRG, were a leasing office for the project, county staff would agree it would fall under the incidental use provision because it would be directly related to the service needs of the research park.
But she argued that Commerce CRG's agreement is only for leasing and sales of building A, where they hope to also have an office, and not for the entire park; and that they are moving their entire real estate office.
"Staff found it was not only a leasing office. It's conducting business throughout the county, not for the entire research park," Gabryszak said.
Because of their interpretation of the development agreement, staff denied the permit, at which point the applicant appealed the denial and it went before the County Council to make the final decree.
Tech Center Project Manager Dave Allen spoke in favor of allowing the real estate office, saying they needed their help to market the research park, as nothing was there yet.
"For me, if the park was fully built out, there would probably be less of a need for them because we would be full," Allen said. "But we're basically empty now with the exception of half of our first building. So we're rather anxious to have all the help we can get."
He added that if the county applies the current narrow interpretation of the development agreement, the research park will be put out of business because they won't be able to attract clients.
Tim Anker, a Commerce CRG representative, added that their use is projected to generate one-tenth the traffic of the other permitted uses, and that just because they do business outside the research park doesn't mean they won't be incidental.
"The complaint is that us being a full service brokerage located on-site somehow disqualified us as being an incidental commercial use," Anker said. "As a commercial real estate office operating as an on-site leasing office, and as the model suite for the development that markets the available space for leasing the park, I believe we are by definition an incidental commercial use."
He said they are only moving a 1,900 square-foot satellite office with eight employees into the research park.
Councilmember Sally Elliott said that giving a small on-site real estate listing agent space is appropriate for the site, but that 1,900 square-feet with eight agents is way over the top.
"I don't think your agency is going to control all the real estate on all the property, and I think giving you the edge of 1,900 square-feet and space for eight agents is more than the development agreement entitles you and its more than I'm willing to allow," Elliott said.
She said she is going to recommend they uphold staff's decision and deny the appeal.
"I'm happy to do it this week or next week, but I don't think another week is going to change my mind about upholding the staff's decision," Elliott said.
But Robinson said the agreement itself was flawed.
"Are we going to have to do a traffic study on every single tenant to make sure 50 percent of the traffic is not offsite?" he questioned. "There's two things here. One is, what does the agreement say? We're required to interpret this. And the second question is, what might it say if we amended it?"
The County Council will be reopening the item today (Sept. 26) at 4 p.m. at the Summit County Courthouse at 60 North Main Street in Coalville,