East Side to consider another golf community
May 6, 2008
Shifting some of its attention to the East Side, developer Talisker Corp., which is building Empire Pass at Deer Valley, wants to build a golf course community just outside Kamas.
The plan, though, has raised eyebrows among ranchers in the area who are worried the approval would open the floodgates for more high-end real estate in the Kamas Valley, an area that has traditionally been dominated by ranches and working class neighborhoods.
Tonight, citizens will have a chance to comment on Talisker’s proposed White Saddle development at a meeting of the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission at Kamas City Hall at 7 p.m.
Plans include a golf course, club house, equestrian center and 62 building lots. To accommodate the development, Talisker wants to rezone 742 acres along State Road 248, which has been used to graze livestock.
"This is the first major thing coming over the hill our way," said East Side Planning Commissioner John Blazzard, who is a rancher in Kamas. "It’s in the area that we deemed we would like to keep really rural."
Current zoning only allows about seven units to be built on land Talisker wants rezoned, Planning Commissioner Diane Foster explained.
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"They are asking for 10 times the platted density," Foster said. "It’s a philosophical question. If your average farmer can’t get that kind of density, should we allow people to buy density?"
Before the number of homes can increase, Foster says Talisker must agree to provide "community benefits."
"We are discussing affordable housing," she said.
But she is "less than impressed" with the proposals so far, Foster added.
Talisker designed a building with about 40 affordable units, she said.
"Would people really want to live there? I’m not so sure I’d want to live in a building with 40 other people in pretty tight quarters," Foster said, adding that the units should be spread into separate buildings.
Blazzard criticized the affordable-housing proposal.
"I think we we’re only talking about a handful of people," he said. "I personally don’t see that that is enough of a benefit."
According to Talisker attorney David J. Smith, the Jordanelle Special Service District would provide White Saddle with water.
"In my opinion, we’re trying to preserve agriculture and our rural way of life, and these kinds of things are different than that," Blazzard said about the project. "These developments like this, with golf courses, are snatching up agricultural water over here The amount of money that can be paid for agricultural water doesn’t anywhere near touch how much these high rollers can pay."
He questioned whether the county needs another golf course.
"It’s the last thing you ever do with your land. You can change agricultural uses, but once you develop it, that’s the end of it," Blazzard said. "Maybe when our country gets hungry enough, we’ll start regrouping a bit, I don’t know."
The developers of the gated subdivision at Promontory irked eastsiders when a pipeline began pumping water from the Weber River near Peoa onto golf courses in the Snyderville Basin, he said.
"People are questioning why we would even consider giving [Talisker] that much extra density," Blazzard said. "Nobody can perceive a public benefit from it."
A traffic analysis submitted by Talisker indicates that "no further modification to State Route 248 is necessary," according to a report by county planner Lisa Fitzgerald.
"I hope we get some public from the Kamas Valley to give us some input," Blazzard said about tonight’s public hearing. "It could affect the way other parcels are handled in that same area. It’s a concern to us and we want to be very careful about it."