New rules could mean housing boost
July 25, 2008
People who are struggling to buy pricey homes in the Snyderville Basin got relief Wednesday from the Summit County Commission when new housing rules were finalized.
The economic incentives provide builders the ability to construct bigger neighborhoods in exchange for building additional affordable units. The density of subdivisions would increase when developers agree to build about half the overall number of units in their subdivisions for more work force housing.
Summit County enacted a policy last year requiring about 20 percent of overall new development be earmarked for people earning less than the area median income of about $82,000.
But bigger neighborhoods would dramatically increase traffic, Basin resident Deb Scoggan said.
"How are traffic impacts ever mitigated? I’ve never seen traffic impacts mitigated," she said.
Work force units would be deed restricted, which means buyers must qualify based on their incomes.
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But who will enforce the housing restrictions? Scoggan asked, adding that it must be "somebody reputable, who we can trust."
Owners of deed-restricted homes at Bear Hollow Village allegedly improperly sold their units at market rates.
"Perhaps we can come up with some ideas that are more realistic," said Scoggan, who asked commissioners to vote against the incentives.
According to Basin resident Dave Wadman, "we all moved out here to live in rural America."
But multi-story housing complexes do not mesh well, Wadman said.
Meanwhile, Basin resident Mark Vernon also criticized the plan.
"There is no discussion of impacts on schools," Vernon said.
Still, the County Commission voted unanimously to approve the new guidelines.
"The thing that I think is remarkable about this process, is that the public had a tremendous amount of input," said Scott Loomis, executive director of Mountainlands Community Housing Trust.
Critics, though, say the incentives could bring crime to the denser communities.
"We wanted to do something that would fit in with the fabric of the community to ensure that western Summit County doesn’t become just an enclave for the rich and famous," Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer replied. "It takes a lot of money to live in Park City and if we don’t do anything, we will have an enclave for the rich and famous."
County Commissioner Sally Elliott agreed, saying "it is our obligation to see that affordable housing is produced for everybody who works in the community."