Developers have taken the helm of a large-scale development proposal near Hoytsville

Cedar Crest Village, touted as a community-driven development, is now 90% controlled by developers

Summit County Planning and Zoning Director Peter Barnes leads a visioning exercise during a Cedar Crest Village Overlay Committee meeting in 2019. The citizen-led planning process has entered a new phase, with 90% of the project site now controlled by private development firms.
Park Record file photo

Developers now control 90% of the land in the Cedar Crest Village Overlay site, a 1,000-acre project near Hoytsville comprising two dozen individual properties whose owners are together planning a large-scale development.

Officials had described the process as a citizen-led effort to craft the future of their town. A group of neighbors had been meeting regularly to discuss how they would like the land to be developed.

Preliminary plans show areas for businesses, homes and parks, though specific numbers of homes and square-footage for businesses have not been decided.

Now, about 900 acres are controlled by two corporate firms: Ivory Development and Elevation Properties. Ivory Development also controls about 250 acres within the Coalville city limits that border the project site. The firm is requesting to build 349 homes there.

On Wednesday, the Summit County Council appointed Rich Smith of Elevation Properties to the Cedar Crest Village Overlay Committee. The council in March appointed Ivory Development president Chris Gamvroulas to the committee. Officials said Elevation controls about 300 acres in the project site, while Ivory controls about 600 acres.

County Councilor Roger Armstrong asked whether developer control of the project aligns with its original intent, to allow locals to plan how they want to see Hoytsville grow.

“I think we originally conceived of the village overlay as kind of a local process for the community to have some voice in the way things would shape up,” he said.

Kirsten Whetstone, the county planner leading the project, said committee members were satisfied with the arrangement.

“We really got as far as we could with the concept plans and it was going to take quite a lot more effort for staff to actually create these site plans,” she told the council.

County Council Chair Glenn Wright estimated the development proposal could cost $1 million “before a shovel of dirt is moved.”

The Village Overlay Committee uses a specific process outlined in the Eastern Summit County Development Code that spells out how landowners can work together to conduct preliminary land planning before submitting a recommendation to the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission. A project would ultimately be decided by the County Council. The goal is to allow “cooperation and community design flexibility (and) … to reestablish and revitalize existing, non-incorporated communities in Eastern Summit County.”

Thursday morning’s meeting was the first since March.

Community Development Director Pat Putt said the process was likely always going to involve a development firm.

“The property owners, they’re not designers and vertical builders,” he said. “… They now have teammates who are going to help in this next important step.”

Putt said the inclusion of the developers did not subvert the original intention of the committee. The test of the project will be how well it hews to the values and goals the landowners initially set forth, he said.

The alternative, Putt said, is development firms acquiring individual parcels of land and proposing projects that might not work in conjunction.

“Failure would be: Ivory does their own (Master Planned Development), Elevation does their own MPD, somebody else does their own 12-unit thing. What we’d be left with is individual development permit applications wherein within the bounds of individual properties, they would attempt to meet the code,” he said. “When you look at it individually within the lines of their property, it might be a fairly well-designed project, but when you begin to piece them together … they won’t always necessarily fit together.”

A project of this scope would likely take years to be decided by the County Council. There is not a clear corollary for a recent project of this scope in unincorporated eastern Summit County, but the Tech Center proposal at Kimball Junction, while much smaller in size at 50 acres, is nonetheless a project seen to have similarly sweeping impacts.

Developers submitted a proposal for that project in August 2019, and the council has yet to render a decision.

The area near the Cedar Crest proposal is the site of explosive growth, with the Coalville City Council recently told their municipal services would fail if all of the proposed development in the city were built in a short time frame.

It is unclear how many homes could be built in the Cedar Crest site, though some have suggested as many as five per acre.

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