1,600-home development proposed near Kamas
Developers indicate they can propose the project to another city or incorporate the land into its own town
The Kamas City Council on Tuesday heard a proposal for a 1,600-unit housing development just outside city limits, a project that Mayor Matt McCormick estimated could quadruple the city’s population if it’s annexed into city limits.
“I looked this plan over and I’ll be flat honest, (1,500) or 1,600 homes scares me to death,” he told the developers. “… I just, I don’t know how to see Kamas at 8,500 or 9,000 residents. I don’t know how to see that.”
Details about the plan were not immediately available, but it appears to involve land mostly owned by the Ure family as well as other acreage west of the city. According to county documents and the list of parcels submitted to the City Council, the land in question is nearly 1,100 acres.
The Ures own more than 800 acres of the proposed project site, while an LLC called CCG Summit owns about 265 acres on the west side of the proposed development, near the Tuhaye golf course community.
At the meeting on Tuesday, a CCG representative proposed that Kamas annex the land but wanted an indication of what number of housing units the city would allow.
Most of the land, all of which is in unincorporated Summit County, is zoned for one housing unit per five acres, though some is zoned for one housing unit per 10 acres or 80 acres.
The developers appear to be requesting one housing unit per 0.68 acre.
The developers’ representative, Sam Castor, said the first choice is for the land to be incorporated into the city, but made clear the developers could pursue other strategies to see that the project is built.
“I don’t want to waste my time either, especially because we have other options. And I know what it’s like to feel like you’re the only girl at the dance and I know what it’s like to realize you’re not,” Castor said. “So, I’m not trying to make you uncomfortable, I just want to be really clear with you that there are a lot of other options.”
Castor indicated the landowners could incorporate the land into its own town, as Hideout and other towns have done. Other officials indicated the landowners could seek to be annexed into Francis or Oakley.
The councilors had mixed responses to the proposal, with outgoing member Allen McNeil appearing the most supportive. He urged the city and developers to work together to find a solution.
Kevan Todd said he prefers the city annex the land so it has a say in how the development proceeds.
“I don’t know that I’m totally in love with this, and I don’t know if I’m totally in love with 1,600 units, but I’m willing to put in the time to say what happens in my backyard,” he said.
Councilor John Blazzard indicated he’d be open to negotiations, but his initial comments showed opposition to that level of growth.
“I took this thing that was handed to us at last City Council and threw it in the garbage,” he said, referring to an initial development plan distributed at a previous city meeting. “Because this is something that in my mind is totally unacceptable for our valley. I don’t even want to be a part of creating a city that big in our valley.”
Councilors Garry Walker and Monica Blazzard were absent from the meeting.
Castor multiple times asked the council to consider a letter of intent to annex the land, indicating the developers would be open to as few as 700 homes built over 15 years.
“I want to try and figure out a way to give you what you want,” Castor said. “But if I can’t articulate back to people that there’s some quantifiable reasonable metric that justifies us annexing with Kamas, then the quantifiable reasonable metrics exist with three other options.”
McCormick and others said they would not yet commit to moving forward and advocated for a longer public process with opportunities for residents to weigh in.
Castor said he thought the landowners could incorporate as their own town in less than a year.
McCormick said the project should first proceed through an annexation and that questions about density should come later. Castor indicated the development team prefers to address both issues at once.
Castor appeared to try to appeal to the city councilors on cultural grounds. He asked councilors if they liked guns and indicated the project could contain a mile-long shooting range. He also paraphrased a 19th-century leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“John Taylor, you know who he is, he said there will come a time when there are communities that are so advanced in terms of art and architecture and literature and science and theater and gardens and medicine and music and science, that when God comes back, those communities will be lifted up,” Castor told the council. “I’m not saying we can do that. I’m not presuming that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to try. So I want to figure out a way to do it with you, because you guys have the keys for building your future.”
The council agreed to hold a work session with the developer on Nov. 17 and to meet in the meantime to discuss a “wish list” of benefits the development could bring. Officials indicated such a list could include new public works equipment or improvements to water infrastructure.
John Blazzard indicated the city only has one chance to get the development proposal right.
“As a farmer, I’m able to pick a crop out and try to grow it, and if it doesn’t work, I can go back,” he said. “This is the last crop on this land.”
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