Summit County seeks to prevent Dakota Pacific from developing at Tech Center until lawsuit is resolved
Injunction filed on Tuesday could be ruled on in mid-April
There’s roughly one month until Senate Bill 84 becomes law, but there are lingering questions about how much local land use authority the County Courthouse will retain in Kimball Junction.
But three motions filed by Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson on Tuesday aim to address the problem by preventing Dakota Pacific Real Estate from building anything at the Park City Tech Center without the county’s approval, or until the lawsuit filed against the development firm and the state of Utah is resolved.
Summit County is suing Dakota Pacific, the state and 50 unnamed defendants for “legislative cronyism” amid the passage of S.B. 84, which seeks to remove land-use authority. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of S.B. 84, which was filed a few days before Gov. Spencer Cox signed the bill into law. Olson has requested an expedited hearing on the injunction before S.B. 84 takes effect on May 2.
The law will grant rights to landowners within a Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zone, including being able to build “at least 39 dwelling units per acre on average over the developable area, with at least 10% of the dwelling units as affordable housing units… (and) commercial uses including office, retail, educational, and healthcare in support of the mixed-use development.” The language is nearly identical to what Dakota Pacific is pursuing at the Tech Center.
While the County Courthouse has a process for overseeing aspects of construction, such as issuing excavation and conditional-use permits, reviewing building heights and conducting inspections, county officials said it’s unclear how S.B. 84 will impact those operations – and whether Summit County has the authority to intervene with the Dakota Pacific development.
The motions filed by Olson this week ask Third District Court Judge Richard Mrazik to make partial summary judgments, which are rulings on a claim. Summit County filed eight claims against the various defendants and is seeking partial summary judgment for two.
The first motion asks the court to rule on the claim that S.B. 84 does not invalidate the existing 2008 development agreement, which limits what can be built at the Kimball Junction site to mostly tech-related and research office buildings. Dakota Pacific would be bound by the development agreement despite S.B. 84 if the judge rules in favor of Summit County.
In that case, the developer would be forced to follow the county’s building process or seek an amendment to the development agreement, which the Summit County Council has yet to vote on.
The second motion addresses the county’s claim that Dakota Pacific and the Tech Center “do not fall within the provisions” of S.B. 84. Olson argued the language of the legislation only grants development rights “within ⅓ mile radius of a public transit hub” and if the developer “submitted a land use application to the county on or before December 31, 2022.”
Her motion states the proposed Dakota Pacific development falls outside the geographic requirement because High Valley Transit doesn’t meet the definition of a public transit hub in the state code. Additionally, she argued the developer never submitted a land-use application, but rather, they asked the County Council to amend the existing development agreement.
“Each of those justifications is sufficient for the Court to enjoin DPRE from trying to rely on SB 84s2 to circumvent Summit County’s land use authority and proceed with development of the Tech Center,” the injunction filed by Olson stated.
A ruling on the injunction is not likely to be made before mid-April. It will likely take years for the lawsuit to be resolved in court.
Park City Council contest draws nine, some with established names and others with political newcomer status
The period when candidates needed to file campaign paperwork closed on Wednesday. There was not a rush of interest in the final hours, but the field is an intriguing one nonetheless.
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