Big box retail proposed for US 40 business park
With "big-box" retailers eyeing Summit County, citizens this week got their first look at possible plans to construct Costco and Target stores in Snyderville that total 255,000 square-feet.
According to developers of the proposed Silver Creek Center, other interested tenants east of U.S. 40 include Best Buy, Gart Sports, Ross Dress For Less, Barnes & Noble, Michaels crafts and PetSmart.
The plan, however, contradicts zoning laws in the area and would require the county amend its Snyderville Basin General Plan and Development Code, Summit County planner Tiffanie Northrup said.
Developer Henry Sigg Tuesday received an icy response from the Planning Commission.
"Are we ready at this time to significantly change and revise the general plan?" Northrup asked.
Basin Planning Commissioner Mike Washington says the development would harm the West Side’s resort character.
"We’ve said mountain resort character over and over again," Washington said. "If you’re willing to give it up and move on, let’s consider an amendment."
Though the 42 acres proposed for development are near an existing commercial area, the property is also zoned for residential use. Most of the stores would be built north of the Silver Creek Business Park and Commerce Center, with Best Buy and other smaller businesses slated northeast of The Home Depot.
"This proposal is actually for 400,000 square-feet," said Sigg, who recently acquired the remaining undeveloped land in the Silver Creek Commerce Center.
The business park is located north of Quinn’s Junction and northeast of the intersection of U.S. 40 and Silver Creek Drive. To preserve the area’s rural nature, the Summit County Commission denied developers’ requests to zone the property commercial during a 2004 overhaul of development codes in the Snyderville Basin.
"There was a clear point to the general plan, it was well thought out," said Greg Voth, chair of the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission.
It would be unusual for county officials to amend the general plan and development code so soon after the changes, Summit County Community Development Director Nora Shepard said, adding, "this is a significant change in our general plan."
"Usually, it’s after a number of years, [after] the general plan gets outdated," she said.
Shepard isn’t sure roads in the area can handle more cars and recommends planning commissioners conduct a traffic study before approving zone changes.
"We understand that this is a large undertaking and will require a traffic-impact study," Sigg explained. "As you create more (commercial) opportunities and cluster them it will begin to pull some of the traffic away from Kimball Junction."
Many residents supported the plan during a "soft poll" conducted recently in western Summit County, he said, adding, "we could do a more formalized poll as well."
"Public sentiment would be very strong," Sigg said. "There is established commerce that is occurring there."
But the Planning Commission is concerned about the detrimental impact big-box retailers could have on the area’s smaller businesses. By not allowing more retail, however, Summit County could give up sales-tax revenue to neighboring Wasatch County.
"They’re also big employment generators," Shepard said.
But big-box stores were rejected more than a year ago during negotiations to revamp zoning codes in Snyderville, Basin Planning Commissioner Claudia McMullin said.
"Is there an outcry for a big box?" she asked. "I see no reason on Earth to revisit this right now."
Commercial zoning in that part of the Basin allows for a maximum building size of 60,000 square-feet, Shepard said, adding that, before the project can proceed, the general plan would need to change and a "big box" zone would need to be created.
"This seems like an obvious place where [big-box stores] might fit," Basin Planning Commissioner Jeff Smith said. "Where is it going to be, in this county, or are we going to turn this tax revenue over to Wasatch County?"
According to Shepard, "[planning commissioners are] saying, yeah, maybe we’ll consider changing the general plan to allow a big box zone, or, we won’t consider changing the general plan."
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