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Massive Basin housing project proposed

A massive housing project proposed on 420 acres of flat, sage brush-strewn land east of U.S. 40 could help relieve the work force housing shortage in western Summit County, the developer says.

The plan is the first submitted under new planning guidelines meant to spur construction of work force housing in western Summit County. But the size of the project took planning commissioners aback Tuesday.

Among the 564 homes in the neighborhood, which abuts The Home Depot, are condominiums, townhouses and single-family building lots, Summit County planner Kimber Gabryszak said, adding that the applicant is Park City Ranches LLC.

"It’s very preliminary," Gabryszak said. "With a project of this size it’s unusual for the original proposal be exactly what ends up being approved."

The plan also includes 124,000 square feet of new commercial space.

"They knew going in that there were some things that they would have to change, but they just didn’t have time to do it before the meeting," Gabryszak said. "The meeting on Tuesday was more of a concept discussion not necessarily getting down into the details."

Rules approved by the Summit County Commission in July will provide economic incentives to builders who choose to develop housing for people making less than the Snyderville Basin area median income of roughly $82,000 per year.

"The reality is, 10 affordable homes or 100 affordable homes, really any range that we can add to our community, is a positive thing," Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioner Flint Decker said. "For sustainability for our community and for protecting our ability for keeping a very diverse community healthy, we need to bring that affordability and attainability to our housing."

At what cost, Citizens Allied for Responsible Growth President John Tuerff asked in a telephone interview Friday.

The proposal presents a slew of potential burdens to schools, the watershed and sewer infrastructure, Tuerff said.

"The question becomes: Is the affordable housing that we get worth the cost of all the infrastructure we need to provide?" Tuerff explained. "The challenge with incentives for affordable housing is whether or not we can afford to pay for the incentives."

Silver Creek and the Rail Trail snake through the property.

"I think it’s awfully dense for the location and I think that’s being illustrated by the issues regarding the development," Tuerff said, adding that buses do not currently serve the area.

The incentives allow builders to construct bigger neighborhoods in exchange for building work force units.

But that eastern side of the Snyderville Basin is in the South Summit School District and students who live at the so-called Silver Sage development will not likely ride the bus to Kamas, Tuerff said.

"I’m sure that’s not what the development is intending on doing. It’s going to be a very big issue for schools," Tuerff said.

The open enrollment policy for public education in Utah allows students from anywhere in the state to attend highly-rated schools in Park City.

Further, the property that landowner Florence Gilmor wants rezoned for Silver Sage is within a half-mile of a bus stop on Highland Drive, according to Gabryszak.

The average hourly wage earned in western Summit County three years ago was reportedly less than $9. A median-priced house in western Summit County last December sold for almost $1.3 million, according to sales figures.


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