December 22, 2011
The Summit County Council voted to repeal the CORE building program last week amid two lawsuits and public backlash involving the program.
CORE was developed by county planners in 2006 to give incentives to developers to build workforce housing. It allows a developer additional density if they provide community benefits, mainly workforce housing and open space.
The Discovery project was the first CORE project to get approved in October after two years in the planning process. Neighbors of the 210-unit development immediately sued the Summit County Courthouse, saying CORE was unconstitutional and allowed high density projects to be placed in inappropriate locations.
A second CORE project, Stone Ridge, is currently in front of the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission for approval. At a public hearing for the development, residents expressed frustration with the CORE program for allowing the developers to build over 300-units on an area that was only zoned for 15.
Summit County Community Development Director Don Sargent said there had been confusion surrounding CORE and the proper way to calculate allowable density.
"CORE brought awareness to the workforce housing needs in the community and we have been able to develop significantly more workforce housing than we had before," Sargent said. "We thought a repeal was appropriate given the experience we have had and the opposition raised by residents every time a CORE development tried to go through the planning process."
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Multiple residents spoke at the CORE repeal hearing and said that while workforce housing may be necessary, the program simply didn’t work, and there was no way to properly implement it.
The Council voted four-to-one to repeal the program. The holdout, Councilmember Dave Ure said he also opposes the CORE program but was afraid that without a workforce housing program in place, the county will be susceptible to frivolous lawsuits.
The County planning staff is working on a replacement program but does not expect it to be ready for a few months. According to Sargent, the new program will still have a workforce housing component, but will not allow the same amount of increased density that CORE did.
"We want to adopt a Master Plan Development system, which would not only deal with workforce housing but also mixed use. And the incentive for adding more workforce housing will be clearly spelled out," Sargent said, adding that he expects to hear a lot of public input about the new system. "It will act as a replacement for CORE, but I don’t think we will ever again see a development plan that allows for such an exponential density increase as CORE did."