Highland residents pack public hearing
October 18, 2013
Residents of Highland Estates again packed a public hearing at the Summit County Council on Wednesday, as nearly 100 people showed up to voice their opinions on home-based businesses and the overall character of their neighborhood.
The county had hoped to adopt Phase I of the Snyderville Basin General Plan, which includes nine chapters. However, the majority of the hearing, held at the Richins Building, was spent discussing the Highland Estates neighborhood planning area.
The proposal on the table was whether or not to separate that neighborhood from the greater Trailside neighborhood of which it had previously been a part. Though many residents gave their thoughts on that matter, the majority spoke about the impact of the growing number of home-based businesses, many of which are in violation of code.
"We are not rezoning anybody’s property tonight," said Council Chair Claudia McMullin to the attendees. "We are not changing the development code’s definition of a home-based business tonight. The law is the law. We are the County Council and we are upholding that law. That is our duty."
Highland Estates resident Sarah Wood claimed that the neighborhood is "million-dollar different" from Mountain Ranch Estates and that the two neighborhoods should not be grouped together. She said Highland Estates is a place where a working-class person can be "comfortable."
Kristen Case, a Highland Estates resident, said she was previously worried that separating Highland from Trailside, Mountain Ranch and others would foster a greater opportunity for the businesses in Highland in violation of the code to expand, which she opposes.
The dialogue of the hearing then shifted almost entirely to the issue of home-based businesses. Summit County Community Development Director Pat Putt defined the two types of home-based businesses allowed by the county. A ‘Class II’ business allows one employee and one vehicle at a resident’s house.
"Either through ignorance or willful ignorance, [some residents] have chosen to create a commercial business, which is very distinct from a home-based business," said Highland resident Mark Case. "If they have a business plan that is predicated on violation of regulations, it’s a flawed business plan. It’s not our responsibility to take care of them."
Current Highland Estates residents whose businesses are in violation of county code are being given until January to come into compliance with the code. If they do not, it is unclear as of yet what will happen to their businesses.
Randy Godfrey, Highland resident and owner of High Country Lawn Care, said he hasn’t had any pushback about his growing business from neighbors until this year. He added that he tries to "be considerate" and landscapes his house as best he can.
Addressing the safety concerns about his and other businesses’ trucks and trailers traveling through the neighborhood, Godfrey said, "I think cars driving 60 miles per hour on Snowview [Drive] in the morning is way more of a safety issue than a truck and trailer."
Highland Estates resident Joel Andrews said he founded and ran Park City Power Products, which closed in 2007, out of his house and garage. He found a need for the business when he saw many residents taking their snowblowers to Salt Lake for repair.
"I built that business to serve the community. Honda charged $85 an hour. I was charging $55," Andrews said, who added he had to raise prices when he was forced to find commercial space after a complaint about his business. "There’s always going to be somebody in this world that’s going to be doing something that you don’t like."
However, another resident Kathy Apostolakos said when she got a business license 16 years ago she agreed not to have more than one vehicle.
"[Getting commercial space] is the cost of doing business," Apostolakos said. "Grandfathering in people who have chosen to ignore our code is not fair."
The council did not make a decision on whether to adopt Phase I of the General Plan, but home-based businesses in Highland Estates will have until January to comply with the code. Council member Chris Robinson summed up what the priorities of the county are.
"If there’s a problem with the law, fix it. But until it can be fixed, enforce it," Robinson said.