Residents from the Highland Estates neighborhood packed Wednesday's public hearing about the Neighborhood Plans in the Snyderville Basin General Plan. The issue of home-based businesses proved to be the biggest topic of discussion.
Summit County had hoped to gauge public sentiment on the visions for four neighborhoods: Highland-Trailside, Old Ranch Rd., East Basin and Quinn's Junction. Summit County Planner Jennifer Strader stated that the Neighborhood Plans are important because they provide the framework for Phase II of the General Plan. Each of the neighborhoods' characteristics as well as the objectives were listed in the plan.
Public sentiment centered on the experience of Highland Estates resident and home-business owner Randy Godfrey. Godfrey owns High Country Lawn Care, which he has been operating out of his residence for the last 15 years. He has eight employees and his home is on two lots totaling roughly two acres. He also has several trucks at his residence which he uses for his company.
Recently, however, Godfrey received a notice from Summit County that he had to move his trucks and equipment by Oct. 1 or face a $500 per day fine. He is perplexed because he says he reviewed the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (cc&rs) of his area and found nothing in the language that would prohibit him from running his business.
"Why 15 years after the inception of my business am I being pinpointed along with several other companies that are now being kicked out?" Godfrey asked. "To now basically derail us and push us out is an injustice."
Godfrey added that, as he has five children and he is the sole provider for his family, he cannot afford to rent a commercial storage area.
"There is nowhere that can house us," Godfrey said. "With the type of revenues we'd have to make it's just not going to happen."
All necessary steps have been taken to mitigate any issues, Godfrey said, and he added that no one in his neighborhood has brought up any issues about his home-based business to him. The sight of trucks and heavy equipment, he remarked, are all part of "the general culture of our neighborhood."
"From the get-go, Highland Estates has been a place where you could buy large lots and even have horses," Godfrey said. "We need to be ungrouped from these neighborhoods (Trailside, Mountain Ridge Estates). We're not like them."
Dave Lauren, Godfrey's next-door neighbor, also spoke at the hearing. He finds no problem with Godfrey's trucks at his house.
"I see his trucks they go out in the morning and come back in the evening and that's it," Lauren said. "His trucks don't bother me at all. His business doesn't bother me. I can't even tell it's there."
A long-time Highland Estates resident, Jim Daley, owner of Daley Excavation, also has trucks and machinery at his residence. He has lived there since 1974 when, he said, "it was very rural." Daley supported the idea that was being discussed that Highland Estates should become its own separate neighborhood.
Geno Young, a Highland Estates resident who owns Snow Shine Excavating, presented council members with a stack of papers that his neighbors had signed that included their names, addresses and phone numbers, all in support of what he called "keeping the diversity in our neighborhood intact."
During the hearing, County Council member Roger Armstrong asked how much machinery and heavy equipment would be too much in the Highland Estates community.
"If someone was running a commercial garage or a bakery or had 10 pieces of commercial machinery on their property what's acceptable and what crosses the line?" Armstrong said.
Jim Shea, President of the Highland Estates Homeowners Association, defended home-based business owners such as Daley and Godfrey by saying, "When you go by these houses, they are beautiful."
Shea stated that he would love to put out a mailer to everybody in his HOA as well as others to see what questions they have about the Neighborhood Plans. He added that the miscommunication on this issue is vast.
"This is people's livelihood; people are very, very upset," Shea said.
the end of the public hearing, Council Chair Claudia McMullin urged that a separate public hearing be held to address creating a new proposed neighborhood of just the Highland Estates.
McMullin asked residents of Highland Estates, "What do you want your neighborhood to look like? And how do we get that accomplished in a way that comports with the code?"
Summit County Community Development Director Patrick Putt said that the Planning Department just needs direction from the council to create a new area so that, when he and Strader come back to the council there will be language in it that recognizes the existing land uses.
The county is dealing with code enforcement issues on a case-by-case basis, of which Putt said there are presently six. They have granted extensions for these cases to allow for this dialogue with the General Plan.
For cases such as Godfrey's, however, Summit County Manager Bob Jasper said, "We will find a way to delay enforcement until the process is completed by the council."
"We don't want to be shutting people down midway through this process," Putt said.