County Council to weigh future of Kimball Junction at June 19 meeting |

County Council to weigh future of Kimball Junction at June 19 meeting

The Summit County Council will once again take up the Kimball Junction master plan at its June 19 meeting. The document lays out a vision for the area as a pedestrian friendly neighborhood with communal spaces and a sense of place.
Park Record file photo

Imagine a place with communal gathering areas, public art and green spaces, a place where neighbors can bump into each other and share a conversation over an impromptu coffee that doesn’t require them to dodge traffic to move through the built world.

It should be bike and pedestrian friendly, with businesses mixed among residences and restaurants and relaxing features that foster community and encourage people to slow down.

That’s how Summit Council Chair Roger Armstrong explained his vision for the future of Kimball Junction, which has grown disjointedly since being designated a “town center” in 1998.

The idea was to absorb residential and commercial density there to prevent it from sprawling to other places, Armstrong explained.

“It didn’t grow well,” he said. “You’ve got various development agreements in place around Kimball Junction and each one kind of stands alone; they weren’t complementary to each other.”

So for the last two years, the county has been developing a master plan for the area to guide growth, and it will come before the County Council Wednesday, June 19. The public will have a chance to weigh in on the plan during a public hearing at that meeting, the second after one May 29.

Some, like Kimball Junction resident Kathy Becker, have criticized the plan for lacking specifics. While she supports the document and lauds the work that’s been put into it, she said she wants to see more data like growth projections, height restrictions on buildings and estimates about the number of potential housing units.

But Armstrong defended the scope of the plan and described its purpose as setting out a vision for the area.

“The first thing you do is create a notion,” Armstrong said. “(Then) the development plan puts guardrails around that notion.”

The plan is largely the same document that came out of a citizen committee that met for 18 months to craft it, Armstrong explained, with a minor change to alleviate community concerns about the placement of a future building. It was approved by the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission in February after two meetings, and it is now up to the Council to possibly amend the plan and adopt it as soon as June 19.

At just over 20 pages, the document is spare on specifics, instead offering goals like creating a “people oriented built environment” and “enhanc(ing) and expand(ing) civic space and community activities.” It even floats the idea of a tram or gondola connection between Kimball Junction and Utah Olympic Park.

In a letter to the Council, Becker asks about issues the plan may have overlooked, like whether mountain views might be threatened by tall buildings. She also asks for a rough estimate of how many more housing units might come along. She said her neighbors are unsure whether the county expects another 500, 5,000 or 50,000 housing units in the area.

As the master plan works its way through the county government, the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission is discussing amending its development code to create a mixed-use zoning district, a first for the county. Those developments combine traditionally separate land uses, like having apartments above businesses, for example.

The master plan describes mixed-use neighborhoods as “places where residential, retail, service and civic uses are connected by a network of public spaces.”

It’s that development code that Armstrong referred to as the “guardrails” around the vision of the area, and it’s during the process to hone the new code that specifics like housing units per acre and height restrictions will be decided.

The open house and public hearing for the Kimball Junction master plan was rescheduled from Wednesday, June 5.

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