Few voices at General Plan public hearing speak volumes
Ryan Summerlin January 25, 2013
It was a long night Tuesday, Jan. 22 as a handful of Summit County residents addressed concerns about the Snyderville Basin General Plan update at a Snyderville Basin Planning Commission public hearing.
The meeting ran till nearly 10 p.m., but both sides of the table left with words of respect.
"I’m cautiously optimistic," community activist Craig Eroh said. "I do think the public input is being welcomed and I think we the citizens and the staff recognize the urgency of getting a plan in place before a lot of applications come in. I’m happy with the progress to date."
Community Development Director Don Sargent said that although the meeting was longer than expected, the comments were thoroughly thought out.
"You can tell that those who spoke had reviewed the document," he said. "It’s been many years since I’ve seen that kind of interest in a draft General Plan. The input given was very detailed and specific as to the concerns and comments. I was very impressed with that."
About 10 to 15 people attended the meeting, with some overlapping concerns.
One of the most contested aspects of the General Plan dealt with its very nature: whether it should be advisory or regulatory.
Currently, the General Plan is advisory, with the Development Code acting as the regulatory document.
"For the planning industry across the county, generally speaking, the General Plan sets forth the vision, character and dream for the community," Sargent said. "It captures the essence of what the community would like to see and feel in respect to their sense of place. And the Development Code implements those policies goals and objectives of the General Plan."
But some who attended the meeting Tuesday felt the General Plan itself should be regulatory, with some "finality to the goals and objectives," Sargent said. "But the flip side of that is if it’s regulatory, it is essentially a Development Code. It’s no longer a General Plan, nor is it a visionary document."
Eroh countered that Sargent’s position comes from the county’s legal department.
"I don’t know if he really believes that personally. But I do know this stuff gets driven the legal department, so he’s certainly not going to go against that recommendation," he said.
Another controversial issue centered on affordable housing, and how much flexibility developers should be given when they provide affordable housing.
"You have these sets of rules developers are supposed to follow," Eroh explained. "One provision was that we would subsidize up to 150 percent of the area median income. And another is that we would grant leeway and open-mindedness in design if they included workforce housing. But I think we give too much variance from the Development Code if somebody is going to have affordable housing."
The meeting was meant to be a single public hearing on the overall General Plan, but in order to give the Planning Commission and staff time to address the comments from the residents, the public hearing was continued to Feb. 12.
"We decided it would be prudent to conduct a continued public hearing to review these comments and receive any additional input from those who were not able to attend Tuesday’s public hearing," Sargent said.
A work session is scheduled to follow the meeting to discuss the neighborhood plans.
"The purpose of that work session is to verify the direction the Planning Commission gave staff at the Jan. 8 meeting when there were some suggested revisions to the draft neighborhood plans," Sargent said. "We just want the opportunity to go back and tell them we’ve achieved what was anticipated in the revisions in draft form prior to going to public hearings on the neighborhood plans."
Sargent added that while the Planning Commission is hoping to forward something to the Summit County Council soon, they also want to ensure they’ve been thorough enough to support the public in what they’d like to see in the General Plan.
Due to the continuation of the public hearing, dates for the two neighborhood plan public hearings were rescheduled.
General Plan meetings
All meetings will be held at 6 p.m. at the Sheldon Richins Building, located at 1885 West Ute Boulevard.