County Watch | ParkRecord.com

County Watch

Compiled by Patrick Parkinson

Summit County officials stressed last week that most county tax rates won’t increase in 2007.

"The overall tax rate will decrease quite a bit," Summit County Auditor Blake Frazier said.

With nearly $1.5 billion in new growth, "as the assessed values go up, the tax rates go down," Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer explained.

But those whose property is reassessed in 2007 will pay more in taxes even though rates decreased, Frazier said.

"Roughly one-fifth of the county gets reappraised every year," he added.

In 2007, the taxable value of property in the county jumped from $10.2 to $13.5 billion, a roughly 33 percent increase.

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High Star Ranch on hold

Before Summit County commissioners approve a permit for a roughly 70-home subdivision to be built near Kamas, the Kamas City Council must decide whether to annex the property into the town of roughly 1,500 people.

Developer Mark Fischer wants to construct a ritzy equestrian community called the High Star Ranch at the north edge of Kamas that could greatly impact water and sewer systems in the city.

"There are several historic features on this property," Summit County planner Don Sargent said. "It’s one of the first homesteads in the Kamas Valley."

But neighbors in Kamas are concerned about how the new development might affect nearby irrigation ditches. The developers would agree to maintain ditches on their land while also providing ditch crossings, explained Pete Gillwald, a spokesman for the High Star Ranch.

The Kamas City Council could decide Aug. 1 whether to annex the property so developers could connect to city infrastructure.

"There was a great deal of public comment that [the High Star Ranch] is just too dense," said South Summit resident Beverly Gray about a recent public hearing held by the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission. "It was just too much."

According to Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer, "this is probably the largest, most significant development that has occurred in Kamas in many years, maybe ever."

"The (development) code is designed to maintain a rural, agricultural lifestyle," Richer added.

To address citizen’s concerns, houses were removed from the south side of the property to help preserve a meadow, Fischer said.

"We are trying to do a world class job here and have a project that we can all be proud of," Fischer said.

Richer countered by acknowledging the impacts the project could have on the Kamas Valley.

"My concern really is under the heading of crossing the ‘Ts’ and dotting the ‘Is,’" Richer said.

Commissioners delayed a decision on the High Star Ranch until the Kamas City Council decides whether the subdivision will become part of the city.

"I wouldn’t want to play the city against the county," Richer said, adding that the new subdivision would greatly impact water, sewer and traffic on State Road 32. "It’s probably the largest project in history to come around and have an impact on the Kamas area."

Richer advised his commission colleagues that "we shouldn’t approve anything until we have a better feel for what it’s actually going to be."

"We don’t want to get into a situation where they are negotiating with Kamas with our approval in their back pocket," he said.

According to Fischer, "we’re happy to wait."

"We should wait," he said, adding, "let’s do it right."

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