Residents protest golf plan
May 9, 2008
Residents showed up Wednesday to protest a plan that would put a new gated golf community in the West Hills near Kamas.
Talisker Corp., which is developing Empire Pass at Deer Valley, wants to build 62 houses, a private golf course and an equestrian center on 742 acres.
White Saddle is proposed as a gated subdivision located between Tuhaye and Garff Ranches near State Road 248.
"Aside from the tax revenue, I’m having a hard time understanding what other substantial, tangible benefits to the general public there would be, because this is a closed golf course," South Summit resident Loralie Pearce told members of the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission. "Do we want to keep our small-town communities or do we just want to allow Park City to move in?"
The plan requires rezoning agricultural land. The current zone only allows about seven units to be built. The property is near the county line and about six acres is situated in Wasatch County.
"They’re closing it to the public and there is no agricultural benefit whatsoever," Pearce said. "They’re not raising animals, crops, anything like that I personally feel that they will adversely affect the rural values."
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As a benefit to the community, Talisker agreed to build about 10 units that would be priced affordably for families if White Saddle is approved.
About 30 people attended a public hearing Wednesday at City Hall in Kamas.
"How might the citizens of Summit County benefit from a project like this? That’s the weak spot here." Garff Ranches resident Mark Johnson said. "The subsidized housing for 10 families, or whatever it is, is that a public benefit?"
White Saddle as proposed would not mesh well with rural, working-class Kamas, Pearce explained.
"This is a Park-City characteristic, more resort-type versus small town," she said.
"As it starts coming over the mountain, it’ll start coming down and people will start coming in and building higher-end homes. We have to be very, very careful about how it’s done."
But North Summit resident Bill Wilde cautioned critics about the "Robert Redford effect."
"It’s, ‘I’ve got mine and we’ll end there and nobody else can do anything else,’" Wilde said. "Let’s not put eastern Summit County in a red dress Let’s not put ourselves for sale. Rezone it for what it can handle and leave it at that."
The Jordanelle Special Service District would provide water and sewer service to the project and a traffic analysis submitted by Talisker indicates that "no further modification to State Route 248 is necessary," according to a report by Summit County planner Lisa Fitzgerald.
"It is proposed to be a gated community with private roads and a private golf course," Summit County planner Adryan Slaght said.
Because development is clustered on a small part of the land, about 93 percent of the 742-acre parcel would remain open space, Slaght said.
But rezoning the land means Talisker must provide "substantial benefits for the county," he said.
"We put a year into the process before we ever made our application to the county," Talisker attorney David Smith said. "We thought we were doing something consistent with what the code allowed."
To make the units more appealing, Talisker agreed to split the affordable housing into two multi-family buildings, Smith said.
The subsidized housing combined with substantial property-tax revenue for the county and South Summit School District help justify increasing the density, he claimed.
"We can give preference to eastern Summit County residents for these affordable units," Smith said.
The Planning Commission did not vote Wednesday.