Discovery land offered to county |

Discovery land offered to county

Sarah Moffitt, The Park Record

In another turn of events in the three-year-long approval process of the Discovery CORE development, the developer and landowners are offering Summit County the opportunity to purchase the 70-acres for open space.

The land is located south of Interstate 80 next to the Weilenmann School of Discovery.

The proposed 104-unit development is facing strong opposition from a newly formed community group called Citizens for the Alignment of Growth and the Environment. That group and the Weilenmann School of Discovery have filed lawsuits against the county stating that the approval of the Discovery CORE project was a violation of the county code. They are also challenging the constitutionality of the CORE rezone process.

The Basin Open Space Advisory Committee (BOSAC) received an application in November from the owners of the 70-acre parcel and the developer. The parties said they were interested in allowing BOSAC to purchase the property for a competitive price, according to BOSAC Chairman Max Greenhalgh.

"The parties submitted an estimated value of the property but we have not conducted our own appraisal yet and made them an offer. We are still examining the property and confirming it meets our criteria," Greenhalgh said. "The property could be partially purchased with money from the Open Space Bond that voters approved last November and partially with money from other entities and donations."

There is $11.7 million still available from the county’s Open Space Bond, according to Greenhalgh.

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Both property owners, the Weilenmann family, who owns 22 acres, and the Parleys Creek Group, who owns 48 acres, have previously submitted applications for the same parcels of land to BOSAC. Greenhalgh said that BOSAC did not purchase the properties before due to other parcels becoming available that were of higher priority, such as the Boyer Company property in Kimball Junction and Round Valley.

According to Discovery CORE developer Glen Lent, all three parties signed the application to BOSAC to show their mutual intentions of the area becoming open space.

"Because of public opposition to the project, we want to give the county the opportunity to come forward and make an offer," he said. "But if the offer does not work out, we have every intention of moving forward with the development. We will probably leave money on the table by allowing BOSAC to buy the property, but I wanted to give them the opportunity."

Property owner Michael Milner, with the Parleys Creek Group, said they think the best use for the property is to preserve it as open space. However, he agreed with Lent that affordable housing is important and will be built if an agreement with BOSAC is not reached.

"If the area is open space than it is a win-win for everyone," Milner said. "We are hoping we can all come to an agreement on an amount for the property and a potential donation element. The compensation we expect from BOSAC is based on the value of the property zoned for 105-units, not on its prior zoning as ‘hillside stewardship.’ We have the possibility to make everyone happy here."

Milner said he expects negotiations with BOSAC to begin within a few months.

The landowners refrained from disclosing the amount of money they are seeking for the property. However, in 2010, the four parcels the landowners hold in the area had an assessed valued of $760,000 for tax purposes.