In an effort to make its neighborhood Firewise, the Summit Park Homeowners Association is trying to modify its Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions
In an effort to make its neighborhood Firewise, the Summit Park Homeowners Association is trying to modify its Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), but is facing opposition from residents. (Photo courtesy of Mike Quinones)

After receiving numerous criticisms about the neighborhood's new proposed Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) both online and via an anonymous flier, Summit Park is hoping to resolve some tension in their community with an upcoming Jan. 9 meeting at the Richins Building.

Mike Quinones, the Wildland Fire Coordinator for the Summit Park Homeowners Association, has been leading the charge in trying to get what is a high-wildfire-risk neighborhood Firewise certified.

Quinones recently discovered that, as per Snyderville Basin Development Code, each HOA is responsible for maintaining their fuel breaks as part of their CC&Rs. That means coming up with the necessary funding, and as Summit Park only has a $50/year fee for two plats in its neighborhood, there is not much money for fuel break maintenance.

"If we don't [get Firewise] on our own, the insurance industry is going to step in and do it for us," Quinones said. "They're tired of paying off all these big fires and they want to be able to cut their expenses. They will drop you."

Dave Serena, a Summit Park resident, said one concern is that Summit Park's CC&Rs are more than 50 years old. Quinones mentioned that they are "pretty blunt" and include a lot of legal jargon, even mentioning foreclosure as a possibility if HOA dues are not paid.

"Obviously the community was quite different at that time. As Summit Park has grown, it's time to update [the CC&Rs] to reflect a more modern time," Serena said.

On Summit Park's blog and on the anonymously-sent flier, residents have expressed alarm at the proposed CC&Rs, stating concerns that the HOA could control what residents can do with their property and has no limit on how much it can increase HOA dues.

Serena, who is active on the blog, is concerned that many residents are not doing adequate research.

"I have my sincere doubts that [residents] have actually read through the proposed CC&Rs and reconciled them with the current CC&Rs," Serena said. "It's important that people express their opinions based on fact, not hearsay."

Quinones said that the HOA, whose members are not paid, does not want to become the "neighborhood police" and wants to strike a balance between having solid legal authority and making residents feel free and comfortable. Going Firewise, however, is the main impetus.

"If we could develop defensible space around individual homes and around the neighborhood, [fire crews] might have a chance to stop something and it would reduce personal risk," Quinones said.

The two most likely wildfire scenarios for Summit Park, Quinones said, are a lightning strike and a fire coming in from Interstate 80 (i.e. a tanker fire). With a fire coming from the freeway, he said, fire crews wouldn't be able to catch it in time before it got out of control.

"What I don't want to see is a group of firefighters come in here and get killed because we didn't do our part," Quinones said.

Serena is in support of what the HOA is doing because he said he cares about his community and how it develops a long-term plan regarding wildfires. Addressing HOA dues, for example, he believes is important in tackling wildfire preparedness.

"Over two-thirds [of residents] don't pay [HOA dues], yet the whole Summit Park community gets to reap that benefit," Serena said. "There needs to be some equalization there so that everyone shares in that expense for the benefit of the community."

Another Summit Park resident, Scott McDonald, who owns three houses in the neighborhood, said a potential increase in HOA fees or making such fees mandatory is "highly reasonable."

"I'm okay with the dues being mandatory," McDonald said. "I would also like to see sidewalks. We need to have something in the kitty for that kind of stuff."

Quinones stressed the HOA is not trying to completely stop a wildfire but rather mitigate its impact on the neighborhood.

"We're trying to modify fuels so it slows the fire down and it takes a different path," Quinones said.

Summit Park will be hosting its community meeting on Thursday, Jan. 9, at 6 p.m. at the Sheldon Richins Building, 1885 W. Ute Boulevard.