Overhaul of development process in Basin moves forward as mixed-use zone sent to Summit County Council
Summit County is changing the way it evaluates large development projects in the Snyderville Basin, and the process took a significant step forward on Tuesday.
The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission forwarded a positive recommendation to the Summit County Council for the creation of a Neighborhood Mixed Use Zone at its meeting Oct. 8.
It’s an entirely new land designation that Community Development Director Pat Putt said would allow for more design flexibility and yield projects that align with county priorities.
The zone will affect projects that attempt to combine uses, like a three-story building with businesses on the ground floor and residences above. But another piece of legislation that’s being developed at roughly the same time might have a larger impact on how projects are assessed.
That’s the new Master Planned Development process, which is expected to replace the Specially Planned Area process that was used to create agreements for projects like the Canyons Resort Village.
The Master Planned Development process includes a list of more than a dozen criteria that Planning Commissioners will use when evaluating developments — things like sustainability, transit connection and open space.
Putt has likened it to giving the developers an open-book test, and hopes the process will streamline approvals, yield applications that are closer to county priorities and reduce the number of meetings necessary to work through them.
In its latest update of the Snyderville Basin General Plan, the county approved language that barred entitling any new square footage for development unless it promoted a “compelling countervailing public interest.”
The county has approved a few projects since, with the benefits to the community generally being affordable and workforce housing on projects like Silver Creek Village.
While it appears the county is taking steps to rein in growth in the future and do away with developments seen as disjointed like some at Kimball Junction, Putt pointed out at a recent public forum there exists millions of square feet of already-approved density that has yet to be built.
It is a relatively common practice for developers to keep their applications alive and eligible for a building permit while they wait for the economic conditions they seek. Silver Creek Village and Canyons Village both operate under decades-old agreements.
Putt, however, is optimistic. He thinks it’s possible that much of the entitled land will come back before the county to change the agreements before the projects are built. At that point the county would be able to push the projects toward priorities like open space, affordable housing and traffic mitigation.
He also said that market forces may push owners of existing properties to redevelop. The county would then be able to influence the product they produce.
Land would only be rezoned as Neighborhood Mixed Use if the landowner requests a zoning change from the county and that land has been designated as a potential future site for it. A request to rezone would trigger the Master Planned Development process.
Several areas have been designated as potential mixed-use sites, including in the Jeremy Ranch/Pinebrook area, Silver Creek, along Rasmussen Road and a large swath of Kimball Junction.
The new zone includes rules about everything from how many units could go on the land to the height of buildings to their energy efficiency.
Putt estimated the County Council would reach a decision about the new zone and new development process by early next year. He expressed the importance of community input on the changes, including at the expected public hearings.
A previous draft of the Neighborhood Mixed Use zone went before the Planning Commission in 2017 but was dropped. The timeline has been accelerated because a developer has requested the development code be amended to include the zone.
Henry Sigg intends to rezone the property at 6341 Silver Creek Drive, between the Habitat ReStore and Home Depot, to Neighborhood Mixed Use in order to build the Market at Silver Creek, which is contemplated as a large store.
That project has not been approved.
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861 acres have been placed under a conservation easement, protecting the land from development in perpetuity.