Housing dearth in Snyderville | ParkRecord.com

Housing dearth in Snyderville

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Requiring builders to supply the Snyderville Basin with workforce housing could mean 250 new affordable units in western Summit County by 2011.

Though 662 units could be necessary to meet the housing demands of Park City’s workforce during the next five years, commitments currently exist from builders to develop only 156, a housing needs assessment produced recently by Summit County states.

New guidelines adopted by the County Commission could require that 15 percent of new housing units in village and town centers in Snyderville be affordable to people earning 65 percent of the area’s annual median income of $81,200.

The Snyderville Basin General Plan was amended to possibly allow for higher densities to encourage affordable housing projects near commercial areas and bus routes.

Also, new commercial, industrial, recreational and resort projects could be required to provide housing for 20 percent of their projected employees, the new housing rules state.

"Our doors are open to anybody who wants to develop a true affordable project," Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer said.

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Less restrictive zoning codes for projects outside of commercial centers could provide affordable units throughout western Summit County, the new plan states.

Monitoring the number of sites available for affordable-housing projects will require planners to annually evaluate the supply, according to Kimber Gabryszak, a Summit County planner.

The needs assessment shows real estate prices should continue to climb as the population of Park City and Snyderville grows.

Seventy-eight percent of the 16,418 jobs in Summit County in 2003 were in Park City, according to the report.

Still, about twice as many of those jobs exist in the leisure and hospitality industry when compared to the next largest employment sector, the report states.

According to the needs assessment, in 2003, the average employee in the hospitality industry in Summit County earned $19,485, well below the area median income.

But because the population in Snyderville has grown nearly four percent annually for each of the past five years, buyers with lower incomes are feeling squeezed by the area’s pricey housing market

"Over the next five years, the demand for housing in the Snyderville Basin will increase substantially," the report states. "The prevailing job market makes it difficult for many families to afford housing."

While the number of jobs for workers in Summit County has increased, wages and the amount of housing have remained static, according to Phyllis Robinson, a consultant working with the county on affordable housing.

In 2005, Summit County’s population was estimated at 33,910 having grown 118 percent since 1990, the report states.

Financial incentives for homebuilders who construct affordable housing could allow people earning around $50,000 to purchase homes in western Summit County, according to the needs assessment.

"Who determines what constitutes an affordable project or special-needs project?" Richer said before he voted to approve the new housing requirements for developers.

New county guidelines provide for special consideration by planners for projects that accommodate seniors or people with disabilities.

The rules encourage housing projects near public transportation, shopping and medical facilities.

Eliminating barriers for these builders means quickly processing their development applications, according to Gabryszak.

Fees for some projects could be waived and rules that regulate parking and the preservation of open space could become more flexible for those who build affordable housing when the Snyderville Basin Development Code is revised to reflect the new housing rules.