Basin planning panel introduced to Kimball Junction plan
Summit County staffers this week introduced the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission to the Kimball Junction Neighborhood Master Plan, a document that is intended to serve as a guide to future development and redevelopment of the area.
The introduction was brief and the panel barely scratched the surface of the more than 20-page document during a Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday. A citizen’s committee comprising community members with varying interests and diverse backgrounds spent the last 18 months developing a vision for the Kimball Junction area. If approved, it will be included in the Snyderville Basin General Plan as an amendment.
Commissioner Joel Fine commended the efforts of the committee in an interview on Thursday. He referred to the plan as a “thorough roadmap” that will allow the planning panel to begin addressing issues such as traffic flow and walkability. He said he is particularly looking forward to learning what the community thinks of the plan.
“I think everyone would agree that Kimball Junction needs a facelift,” he said. “But, getting into the weeds and details to find solutions is really going to be the challenge. It will take a number of meetings and I would like to see the community involved. I want to know where they are coming from and what their hot-button issues are. There is no right or wrong way to approach this.”
The Kimball Junction area has been developed over the last 15 years, slowly becoming a shopping and residential hub of the Snyderville Basin. But, staffers and elected officials started recognizing some of the design flaws in recent years. Most of the properties have already been developed so redevelopment and in-fill will most likely occur, the plan states.
“An appropriate mix of land uses, as well as various activity spaces and programs to encourage a sense of community, attracting people on a daily basis, are important objectives,” it reads.
Commissioner Ryan Dickey referred to the plan as “utopian” and conceptual in its current form, with ambitious suggestions. He said it is exciting to think about how Kimball Junction could turn into a walkable, pedestrian-friendly gathering space. But, he recognized it may be difficult to get those who live nearby to change their habits.
Some of the questions Dickey said he wants to address include how the implementation of the redesign would be received by property owners and community members.
“We all go to Kimball all the time and it would be great to create this community where we run into our neighbors while walking around,” he said. “But, I know there may be someone in the community who is against that and will say, ‘I will never stop taking my car on trips to Smiths.”
Commissioner Canice Harte, who sat on the committee, echoed Dickey’s concerns. He said the properties in Kimball Junction on both sides of S.R. 224 are owned by various people, adding “How do you get them to align with this idea to look at the area holistically?”
“We are trying to redesign this for people when it was originally designed for cars,” he said. “If I had my wish list, we would be able to take a look at Kimball Junction and focus on how people interact and navigate, while making cars on the low-priority list.”
Harte, along with Dickey and Fine, strongly encouraged the public to read the document online and participate in the upcoming meetings both at the Planning Commission and Summit County Council levels. The County Council will be the final authority over the document. The first public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 12.
“Everyone interacts with Kimball Junction — whether you live in town or the Basin,” Harte said. “How it will look into the next five, 10 and 15 years is important to all of us so get involved in the process.”
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.