Commissioners review changes to the Snyderville Basin Development Code |

Commissioners review changes to the Snyderville Basin Development Code

Zoie Roland, who lives in the nearby Trailside neighborhood, walks with a cup of coffee along Newpark Boulevard on Tuesday in Kimball Junction. The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission is considering amending the development code to encourage more developments similar to Newpark where both commercial and residential uses are allowed to improve mobility.

As part of the Summit County Council's directive to improve mobility throughout the community, the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission is considering updating the Basin Development Code to ensure future developments are designed to prevent sprawl and encourage connectivity.

County staffers are proposing a Master Plan Development (MPD) process to replace the existing Specially Planned Area (SPA) process the planning commission and County Council use to review developments and proposed density for projects. Two new mixed-use neighborhood zones are also being considered. Tuesday, the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission reviewed the amendments during a work session.

"We had a discussion with the planning commission a few months ago about the MPD and mixed-use zones, but they were very noncommittal about it," said Ray Millner, a county planner. "The other night we had a really good discussion and were able to get the perspective of designers and the developers.

The "crux of the SPA process" is the community-benefit requirement attached to proposed developments, Milliner said. However, the requirements are not clearly defined.

"Sometimes it is really strict and the benefits are defined. But other times, they aren't and when developers look at the process they are not sure what the criteria is," Milliner said.

Creating an MPD would allow the county to establish a clearly defined process that would require developments to fit into the context of the surrounding community by incentivizing connectivity and density.

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To further that goal, the two new neighborhood zones would promote development areas that are compact, mixed use, pedestrian-focused and transit-oriented to preserve open space and reduce impacts to critical lands, Milliner said.

The purpose of the neighborhood mixed-use 1 is to create new development and redevelopment areas that are compact, higher density and performance-based, according to a planning staff report. The neighborhood mixed-use 2 to create opportunities to increase the communities open space lands.

"The idea is it would be mixed with both commercial and residential to kind of help create these neighborhoods where people have options to shop and visit other than driving their cars to Kimball Junction," Milliner said.

The Newpark development and homes at Kimball Junction represent a similar design with residential and commercial mixed uses, but "it needs some help with connectivity across State Road 224," Milliner said.

"Our hope is to try and fix some of those things and make it so that people can move around a little better in something other than their car," Milliner said.

The amendments to the code are meant to enhance the building environment, while ensuring the community's "health, safety and welfare are protected."

"We want to make the developers defend their project and make sure it is viable," Milliner said.

Commissioner Bea Peck, who is a member of the subcommittee responsible for drafting the current proposal, said the amendments would provide the commission with the tools necessary for requiring developers to cluster density.

"I think our philosophy became obvious after we said no new density when we last updated the code and this is part of that effort," Peck said. "It is a work in progress. We have been going over it for the last six months."

Peck said the two new mixed-use zones will help prevent sprawl and, instead, encourage connectivity "where people can live, work and play.

"That is what we see as the greatest benefit where we have created environments that have a little more of an urban feel and have some nice open space. It can help take the pressure off of the communities we have already such as Kimball Junction," Peck said. "Right now we are in the middle of the beginning. We are trying to fine tune our proposed language. We really want to put the time and careful consideration into this so when we put out our product out it has been tested against any unintended consequences."