September 27 editorial |

September 27 editorial

New projects seem incompatible with stressed economy

The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission has been getting an extreme workout this month. In quick succession commissioners were presented with two separate applications for projects that, taken individually, would have enormous impacts on Summit County.

On paper both applicants are promising lots of work-force housing, a scarce commodity in the county. But both are also asking for zoning changes that would substantially increase their allowable density.

The first to come before the commission this month was Silver Sage. As proposed, the project, located adjacent to The Home Depot property east of U.S. 40, calls for 564 residences and 124,000 square feet of commercial development. The developers are hoping to take advantage of the new Snyderville Basin General Plan and Development Code incentives that offer additional density in exchange for community amenities like affordable housing.

The new code, which has not yet been tested with a specific application will be especially challenging for the commissioners.

The most recent application is from Suburban Land Reserve, which owns the large swath of land between the Tanger Outlet Center at Kimball Junction and the Utah Olympic Park. SLR is proposing to develop a research park on an 89-acre parcel, a relatively small portion of its total holdings there.

It is an attractive idea, especially at a time when local and state agencies are hungry to establish new tax-revenue sources in a slowing economy. According to the developer, the research park would cater to businesses that specialize in sports medicine and outdoor equipment which sounds perfect for Park City.

But SLR, too, is hoping the commissioners will relax the zoning restrictions on the parcel in exchange for a potentially innovative project and some worker housing. The landowner also wants the smaller parcel, considered separately from the overall development rights previously granted for the entire parcel which could allow as many as 1,000 residences and an additional one million square feet of commercial footage.

The two projects’ attractiveness is enhanced by the dire state of the economy. Just the thought of new construction and new businesses is enticing. But as these two ambitious projects move forward, the commissioners and the public need to keep in mind that there are already thousands of residential units and commercial projects that have been approved but not yet built and that there are projects under construction like the U.S. Ski Team Center For Excellence and the Intermountain Health Care hospital and medical campus at Quinn’s Junction whose viability could be jeopardized by the Silver Sage and SLR proposals.

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