Snyderville Basin General Plan causing strife
June 9, 2015
The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission recently met with the Summit County Council to discuss how to move forward with Phase 2 of the General Plan ahead of a public hearing next week.
The Planning Commission and County Council appeared to be at odds regarding a specific component of Phase 2 during a quarterly meeting.
The conversation went back and forth between commissioners and council members as the two bodies attempted to understand the implications of Policy 2.3, which states that no new entitlements will be approved until "existing entitlements are significantly exhausted." At a work session last month, the County Council ultimately decided not to approve Phase 2 of the General Plan because of specific concerns with this policy.
"I think we all thought we were on the same path and that was to implement a policy on growth, something to be done now, not later, and not in any instance did I hear this council talk about the need to be timid," Commissioner Bea Peck said. "We heard very strong public discourse in favor of this policy, but it appeared to me on May 6 that policy 2.3 was suddenly discovered and it was stunning to me the feeling that there was no indication coming from council prior to that you had concerns. I thought it was unfair to staff at that meeting in that public domain to pull the rug out from under them."
The Planning Commission unanimously forwarded a positive recommendation to the County Council in February after it held several well-attended public hearings and multiple meetings with the public during the last two years. The County Council has only held one public work session and one hearing on Phase 2, which is intended to address future land uses and patterns of development.
County Council member Roger Armstrong said he has favored and been aware of the policy all along. However, he said he is worried the vague language in the policy may have unintended consequences further down the road.
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"My concern is that it is so all encompassing," Armstrong said during the meeting.
Community Development Director Pat Putt, who has stressed the need to "deal with what hasn’t been built" referred to Policy 2.3 as a "breather."
"I’m going to call it an interim stop-gap measure," Putt said. "I’m asking the County Council to consider, broadly speaking, what we are doing here in our decision making. We need to absorb what we’ve approved and not built yet before we create more. There is the sense that this is a permanent moratorium or some long-term stripping of property rights. We’re not taking anything away and we are not applying any downzones.
The policy simply enables staff to say "time out" and we are not going to "recklessly approve any more than what we already have now without first figuring out the mechanisms and developing the tools to get us where we should be," Putt said.
Commissioner Chuck Klingenstein said he understands the policy needs to be clarified and thinks things are now heading in the right direction following last week’s meeting.
"I think it was a good-hearted discussion," Klingenstein said. "We had been working on this current iteration of the General Plan for a couple of years and had felt we had come a long ways and worked hard. What I found in the discussion with the council was that we weren’t that far apart. It is only a matter of massaging the wording and I think that was the most important thing that came of the conversation."
Klingenstein said he personally struggled with how to phrase Policy 2.3. He stressed the importance of continued public participation to help staff and council members come up with the best version.
"It’s really important for the public to show up," he said. "Obviously the council really wants to hear from the public at large and hopefully the public will take some time to go in and help support one of the most important tenets of the plan."
The County Council plans to hold a hearing at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17, at the Sheldon Richins Building’s, on Phase 2 of the General Plan.
County Council member Chris Robinson said he thinks the document is "within a hair’s breadth of being approved."
"We will have our hearing and maybe some of these new things will get addressed," Robinson said.
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