East Side warms up to the idea of density transfers
December 6, 2011
The Summit County Council of Governments moved one step closer Monday night to allowing unincorporated areas of the county to transfer development rights, coming to the consensus that as long as it was taking place outside of the cities and each district had its own guidelines, then the system could allow for more controlled growth.
After meeting with individual towns and polling Summit County residents on areas they would like to see preserved and areas that were suitable for growth, the Council of Governments, which includes the six Summit County mayors and all five County Councilmembers, decided to come up with a suitable transfer of development rights long-range plan.
The transferring of development rights allows a property owner who wants to keep his land undeveloped to sell his allowable density to a property owner who wants to develop. The East Side mayors originally opposed the concept, saying they wanted to determine their own development guidelines. They also expressed concerns that the density swaps could lead to uncontrolled growth.
Monday night, the Summit County Council agreed with the mayors that transferring development rights would only work in unincorporated areas of the county and density could only be swapped within a district, whether that is North Summit, South Summit, or the Snyderville Basin. That is, property owners could not sell the density rights to a different part of the county.
Park City Mayor Dana Williams said that for the system to work, each community would have to set its own transfer of development rights guidelines based on its objectives.
"Open space has become a requirement in many areas, but Park City has left that open ended, and as a result, the Treasure Hill developers agreed to move 50 percent of the project to provide open space," Williams said. "I would be concerned if you automatically give people twice the density or three times the density to keep another portion of land open, because what is the perceived benefit? It is going to be different for each community and how does one standardize that?"
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Councilmember Sally Elliott agreed with Williams, saying that there is no reason to force everyone into the same mold when each town could decide the rules governing their surrounding area.
"The County has a problem with density in places we don’t want it, there is no reason to put it in places the community doesn’t want it," she said.
Despite the Council’s guarantees that the mayors would have control over the guidelines governing the transfer of development rights in their area, some East Side mayors were still hesitant.
"I don’t like it," said Henefer Mayor Randy Ovard. "I don’t know if it’s totally legal, and if it is, then we need take a serious look and go town to town. There is a lot of heartburn in Henefer about TDR’s."
Kamas City Mayor Lewis Marchant said he did not mind the idea of transferring development rights, as long as the Council left the towns alone to decide their own guidelines.
Summit County Community Development Director Don Sargent said he will take the mayors’ concerns into consideration and place wording in the new General Plan for the Basin and East Side that allow for potential transfer of development rights based on each area’s preferred growth concept.