County Council puts $25M land bond on November ballot
Voters in the Snyderville Basin will decide in November whether to approve a $25 million bond measure to provide funding for open space and new trails.
According to Summit County Sustainability Coordinator Ashley Koehler, Basin voters approved a $10 million bond in 2004, which allowed for the preservation of nearly 1,400 acres of property on the West Side of Summit County.
From the bond proposed this year, about $17 million would be used preserving land. About $8 million would be appropriated for new trail development on the West Side. The ballot measure is designed to provide funding for purchasing open space and preserving agricultural property.
Summit County Councilman John Hanrahan said he strongly supports the bond proposal.
"Borrowing money is as inexpensive as it has been in quite a while," Hanrahan said.
And open space is critical in an economy driven by tourism, he added.
Protecting land in the Park City area from urban sprawl "makes this county much more attractive for tourism (and) for second homeowners," Hanrahan said.
"This will help protect big tracts of land from residential development in the future," he said.
But some do not appreciate officials pushing a bond measure in a down economy.
"I’m just baffled by this," Utah Taxpayers Association President Howard Stephenson said.
It is not necessary to bond for open space on the West Side of Summit County, he said.
"If this were a community that had been poorly planned and the developers had been allowed to put 1/5-acre lots everywhere, I would say maybe it’s appropriate to ensure that we’ve got some open space before everything is built out," Stephenson said in a telephone interview Friday. "But that’s not the case. I would be surprised, even with as liberal as a voting block exists in the Snyderville Basin, I would be surprised if they approve this, given what the community already looks like."
If the bond measure is approved, it could cost the primary owner of a $652,000 home about $99 per year. The owner of commercial property worth $652,000 would pay roughly an additional $182 per year in taxes if voters approve the bond.
Only those living in the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District will be taxed if voters support the bond. The district includes the Park City School District minus property within the Park City limits. The district also includes neighborhoods in Promontory.
"We are glad that this is being proposed on a local level, and it appears just the Snyderville Basin voters will be able to make a decision about their future. But at the same time, we question the need given the good planning of the community that has already existed and the planning options that are available," Stephenson said. "Through planning-and-zoning ordinances, we believe that adequate open space can be provided without this kind of tax increase."
There could be multiple hearings scheduled in the next two months for the public to speak out about the bond measure.
"Since it is $25 million, I think the community should get more than one opportunity to speak," Summit County Council Chairwoman Claudia McMullin said.
Though a resolution was approved Wednesday to put the measure before voters, the Summit County Council could still decide to remove the bond from the November ballot.
Proceeds from the bond could help fund new trails near East Canyon Creek, Kimball Junction, Summit Park and alongside Highland Drive.
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