May 7 editorial
Park City residents who haven’t ventured to the East Side of the county since last summer will likely be surprised by the amount of development that has sprung up, seemingly overnight.
Pockets of new residential development in various stages of completion line the roadways from the Morgan County line in North Summit to the southernmost border with Wasatch County.
Many of the new neighborhoods along State Route 32 through Coalville, Kamas, Oakley and Francis are minor subdivisions, approved under a unique set of rules meant to allow longtime ranch owners a chance to break off parcels for family members without having to adhere to the cumbersome application process required for bigger developments. Others are more ambitious. Collectively, they are changing the landscape in North and South Summit.
That makes some residents on the East Side nervous, especially when they look at housing density and prices in Park City and the Snyderville Basin. Depending on individual perspectives they may see the West Side as enviable or something to avoid at all costs
Either way, East Siders can benefit from the lessons learned by the planners, elected officials and citizen activists who experienced the explosive growth west of US 40 in the 1980s and ’90s.
Certainly some mistakes were made traffic circulation was not adequately addressed, in some cases housing was built before reliable water rights were secured and building affordable housing was not taken seriously enough until it became a crisis.
But there have been some great accomplishments, too an extensive trail system, several popular community parks and a renewed effort to create mixed-use commercial and residential town centers.
Residents of Summit County’s East Side communities can learn from both the missteps and positive strides that Parkites made as they coped with similar economic and lifestyle challenges. In particular, East Side residents can benefit from the experience of county commissioners Bob Richer and Sally Elliott, who as Park City Council members in the 1990s worked hard to translate escalating property values into livable neighborhoods with a sustainable tax base.
The next few years will be critical ones for the future of the East Side. Residents there should plan on becoming active participants on local boards and commissions if they hope to have a say in the future of their communities. They may or may not chose Park City and Snyderville as role models but the development pressures cannot be ignored.
For information about upcoming meetings log on to http://www.summitcounty.org/information/agendas or call your local town offices and ask to be notified of upcoming public hearings.
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Park City on Tuesday hosted an open house designed to provide information about a wide range of municipal projects and programs, but the event took on greater meaning with the gathering becoming among the largest City Hall-organized events held in person in the more than a year.