Perplexed in the Basin
February 21, 2012
The proposed Stone Ridge development exemplifies the predicament the Summit County Council finds itself in with the creation of the CORE development plan and the unclear laws governing development rights. Wednesday night they learned that until they enact a new needs assessment that clarifies if there is a backlog of affordable housing, they will be required to continue basing their decisions on the old one that has been called flawed and unreliable.
The proposed 230-unit Stone Ridge development east of Old Ranch Road has created confusion and sparked debate since 2009 when it was first submitted to the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission. Since then, it has been stalled by debates over density, compact housing developers want to build and Commissioners’ questions over the legality of the project.
In early January, the Planning Commission submitted a positive recommendation for the plan based on the advice of their legal council that said they could only judge the project based on its legal compliance with CORE standards. The County Council got their first look at the project on Wednesday and appeared hesitant.
Council member Claudia McMullin said the roughly 100 affordable housing units are unnecessary due to the recent approval of other workforce housing developments and new information that a 2006 study over-stated the amount of workforce housing that was needed.
Summit County’s Civil Deputy Attorney David Thomas said that if the county’s study had shown workforce housing was needed, even if the survey was flawed, decisions must be based off of it until a new one is implemented.
"You may disagree with our 2006 needs assessment, but it is our basis from when this project went through the process and we need to adhere to it," Thomas said. "Good, bad, or indifferent, state law says we have to follow our own rules, even if we disagree with the conclusion of it."
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In order to build the desired density, the developers have to commit 80 percent of the 300-acres to open space, leaving 230 residences to be built on 60 acres.
Council member Sally Elliott said she supports seeing a CORE rezone project built at the location, but spreading the high density development over so many acres seemed to be "overdoing it."
"We never envisioned a CORE rezone involving more than 100 acres," Elliott said. "The legal interpretation that the CORE covers the entire property and not just a portion does not seem right."
The Council was also unclear about their options, asking whether they had to decide between accepting the project as it currently is designed or denying it entirely.
The Council will hold a public hearing on the Stone Ridge development at a later date.