New village coming to the Junction
The Summit County Council approved the rezone of The Village at Kimball Junction Wednesday night by a split 3-to-2 vote, allowing the developer to add a gas station, financial institution, Del Taco, workforce housing and four new commercial businesses.
Overall, the Village was approved for a 50,000-square-foot expansion. Developers, Summit County Courthouse and the Council of Governments will pay to build two new roundabouts on Ute Blvd. and Newpark Blvd. to mitigate the traffic impacts the project will have.
County Council member John Hanrahan said that in general, approving the expansion was a far better outcome than doing nothing.
"I voted for the project because it provides several beneficial things including workforce housing, the roundabouts that will help traffic and it improves the walkability of the area," Hanrahan said. He added that he agrees with Council member Dave Ure’s argument that while this project may not be perfect, the county cannot wait another five or 10 years for a better one to come along.
The developers will pay over $ 2 million in impact fees and contribute property and sales taxes, all things that Hanrahan says will help the economy and revitalize the area.
Council member Sally Elliott said she voted against the plan because it failed to follow the County Code’s definition of a "village."
"The elements of a ‘village’ in the County’s General Plan and Code deal with minimizing the effects of automobiles," Elliott said. "This project is all about cars and parking. There is nowhere for people to gather or a central location. If they had followed the vision of a SPA [Specially Planned Area] or broken up the hard lines and masses, I would have supported it."
Elliott said some small improvements had been made to the project since the last time developer Bret Whalen presented to the Council, but she was still not pleased with the placement of the pocket parks or the developer’s lack of compromise.
"The pocket parks that are in the area are on the edge of the development where they will not see much use. They did add landscaping but it does not seem to make much sense where it is. The developers and businesses seemed more interested in money than the code. They wanted to get it done as quickly and cheaply as possible," she said.
After citizens raised concerns about the visibility of the Del Taco and other businesses from S.R. 224, developers added landscaping and berms along the perimeter of the development and said the new buildings will be barely visible from the road. The gas station, located at the center of the project, will not have a CNG pump since the space was deemed too small to accommodate it.
Council member Chris Robinson also voted against the project because of the developers’ unwillingness to compromise on payment for the roundabouts and other expense. Construction is expected to begin this spring.
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