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Landowners take aim at plan

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Upset landowners weighed in Wednesday about how zoning rules in eastern Summit County should change as builders subdivide pastures from Francis to Henefer.

Landowners whose fields once contained crops and cattle, say their children and grandchildren aren’t interested in living off the land.

"I think a lot of the reason people are here is, they can’t give all five children a lot," Coalville resident Denny Wright said about the meeting that roughly 60 people attended. "Planning and zoning shouldn’t worry about agriculture. The agriculture will take care of itself."

In many areas, the general plan for eastern Summit County permits only one unit to be developed on a 40-acre parcel.

According to interim Summit County Community Development Director Don Sargent, "that essentially is the prime agricultural area as it exists today."

"On the mission statement, put protecting the private property rights of the citizens first," Kamas resident David Ure said about ways the general plan should change. "Property rights prevail over all other areas."

Low base-development densities mean many retired widows on the East Side cannot generate income from their land, Ure said.

But respecting property rights and controlling urban sprawl is "a tough balance," Woodland resident Tom Clyde said.

Woodland resident John Moon countered that Walmart ought to be able to build on his rural land.

"The Constitution ensures my right to do so," Moon said. "[Walmart] doesn’t infringe on my neighbors."

South Summit resident Bill Crystal said he longs for the 1970s when no development codes were in effect on the East Side.

"I have a concern about property rights and the government telling us what I can do with our property and what I can’t," South Summit resident Jody Marchant added.

According to South Summit resident Bruce Margolius, "the price of calves is down and the price of fuel is up."

"I’m very interested in property rights and I’m very interested in making sure that people on this side of the county control their own destiny," Margolius said.

The meeting was the last in a series of forums the county used to gather feedback from residents about future changes to the general plan.

"Where does eastern Summit County want to go now with respect to its vision?" Sargent asked. "What should the area look like when we’re all done?"

According to eastsider Kendall Rockhill, "we’re all here for different reasons and we’re not going to come up with one perfect thing."

Landowners at the meeting vented to members of the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission.

"The consensus was to keep Summit County like it is," Planning Commissioner Tony Powell said.

But residents want to "be able to give property to a child in a very simple process," Powell said.

"Density should be driven by infrastructure and available resources not aesthetics," Planning Commissioner Mike Brown said about input he received. "The consensus was that our current zoning is making it impossible for our next generations to live in the county."

Still, "there are some who consider themselves active farmers and they want to continue to farm," Planning Commissioner KayCee Simpson said.

"The comment was made that we don’t want the Kamas Valley to look like Snyderville," said John Blazzard, chairman of the East Side planning board. "If you want to maximize property rights, can you preserve our rural lifestyle?"

Submit comments about the Eastern Summit County General Plan by contacting the Summit County Community Development Department at (435) 336-3124.


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