LDS Church aims to sell land at Kimball Junction
November 18, 2006
Land currently owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is poised to become the next battleground for fights between pro- and anti-development factions in western Summit County.
"This is huge," said Bruce Taylor, chairman of the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission.
With LDS Church officials soliciting offers from potential buyers of 410 acres the church owns west of State Road 224 near the Utah Olympic Park, a watchdog group is pushing the government to act before more growth "swamps" the West Side’s transportation system.
Still, church officials on the Web site, http://www.parkcityslr.com, tout the property as an "ideal location for a large mixed-use development, high-end residential community or even an office park with corporate headquarters."
"We are accepting offers on the property, but to say that it’s for sale, is somewhat misleading," said Carl Duke, a manager for Suburban Land Reserve, a real-estate arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Duke boasts on the Web site that Park City’s average household income is more than $80,000 per year.
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But he wouldn’t comment Monday about how much the land is worth or whether any offers have been made.
"We see this development as being tremendously detrimental," explained Trailside resident John Tuerff, president of the local development watchdog group, Citizens Allied for Responsible Growth.
He added that development of the property is CARG’s "number one concern."
"I really think it’s the tipping point as to what kind of community we’re going to have in the future," Tuerff said.
Church officials in the past have suggested constructing a school surrounded by dense residential and commercial development on the property, Tuerff said, adding that roughly 800,000 square feet of building has been discussed for the site in the past.
Road arteries at Kimball Junction, however, already are clogged, he added.
"If we do nothing, with the development that we’re talking about, by 2030, we would have a level of service (on roads near Kimball Junction) of F," Tuerff said, adding that currently streets in the area function at levels A or B. "A level of service F is basically a failing road or intersection."
A reasonable proposal for development on the land hasn’t been presented to the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission, Taylor said.
"They had a whole boatload of housing and we were concerned about what that would do to the existing infrastructure," Taylor said. "And, a lot of commercial has been proposed in the applications that we have seen."
At issue is development of property in Snyderville that is adjacent to S.R. 224, the Tanger Outlet Center and the Sheldon Richins Building and situated across the highway from Redstone Town Center.
"They obviously want to maximize their density and we’re into more open space and trails," Taylor said.
Duke wouldn’t comment in a telephone interview Monday about whether potential buyers have been interested in preserving the land as open space.
"That’s certainly not the way they’re marketing the project," Tuerff countered.
With already approved Kimball Junction town centers still filling out, Taylor questioned whether commerce in the area could support more retail.
"It’s going to be solid building, if what is proposed today, is going to be built," the planning commissioner said. "I would like to see people show up and express an opinion."
Summit County Planning Director Michael Barille says potential buyers have inquired about the development potential of the land.
"It’s not zoned for high-density commercial," Barille said, adding that no vested development rights exist on the property. "It is vested for consideration under the policies of the previous code."
The previous general plan and development code allow the developer to provide a package of benefits to the community — that could include open space, trails or road improvements in exchange for approvals for more square footage, Barille said.
"We have an awful lot of mixed-use and commercial development at Kimball Junction," he explained. "It’s probably going to take something that’s a little less intense."