East Side of Summit County is split on extending highway corridor
More than 20 provide input at recent public hearing
March 3, 2017
The Summit County Council and several landowners are still struggling with a proposal to replace the current highway corridor with a new agriculture zone along most of the roads on the East Side.
On Wednesday, the County Council accepted input on the changes that are being proposed to sections of the Eastern Summit County Development Code that cover zoning districts and requirements, policies and procedures.
More than 40 attended the meeting at the County Courthouse in Coalville, with nearly 20 commenting on the zoning districts. No action was required by the County Council.
In reconfiguring the zoning districts, an Agriculture (AG-1) zone is being proposed to replace the current highway corridor along all county roads, except Democrat Alley in Oakley and Rob Young Lane near Peoa. The AG-1 zone would extend the current highway corridor an additional 250 feet from the center of the state roads.
Several landowners said they were concerned about the potential impacts a new AG-1 zone would have on the infrastructure in unincorporated areas. Terry Fritz, who lives in Hoytsville, said the county's roads are not equipped to handle more traffic, especially where emergency services aren't currently readily available.
"I don't believe it is ready for that type of growth," Fritz said. "If the infrastructure in those areas is improved, then absolutely. But, that's my biggest concern: AG-1 and AG-6. I don't think it is ready for it yet."
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Oakley resident Tom Noaker echoed Fritz' statements for the South Summit area, and added his concerns about sewer and water availability. He added, "The AG-1 creates a big load on existing transportation corridors and that will have its own limitations with water and sewer."
Arelene Judd, who lives within the current highway corridor north of Wanship, suggested including more language to reaffirm the vision of the Eastern Summit County General Plan regarding intent and land stewardship.
"I want the county to make a strong statement about preserving open space," Judd said. "Although we might see growth on the horizon that doesn't mean we can't guide growth in a more positive way."
Staff have contended that the new zoning districts, including AG-1, will create more opportunities for landowners. On Wednesday, several supported the proposal, with some strongly urging the County Council to endorse the new districts.
The other new zoning districts being considered are:
- Agriculture (AG-6): one unit per six acres
- Agriculture (AG-20): one unit per 20 acres
- Agriculture (Ag 40): one unit per 40 acres
- Agriculture (AG-80): it replaces the current AG-100 zone
The following rezone opportunities are also included in the proposal:
Mike Brown, a former East Side planning commissioner who worked on the proposal, said the amendments provide landowners, including himself, the ability to "use my land to the highest and best use." He added, "The current zoning gives us nothing."
"I'm one of those nasty, greedy landowners of eastern Summit County that everyone thinks they need to preserve and protect and I have to provide for the welfare of the whole," Brown said. "They make it sound like there are 3,000 units that will be sold and built tomorrow. But this document is full of measures dealing with the health, safety and welfare as it pertains to water and sewer. But at some point, there will be sewer systems coming into the valley.
"I'm tired of hearing that I have an obligation as a landowner to preserve and protect everyone else in this valley," he said. "Even if these changes go through, you are not obligated to do anything. You still get to choose."
Four people stood up after Brown to reiterate and support his comments.
After a nearly two-hour discussion, the council agreed to keep the public hearing open until a later date, with no clear indication whether the County Council is in favor or against the districts as they are proposed. They also decided to postpone a decision on the Chapter 4 amendments over concerns about remainder parcels and boundary-line adjustments.
To view a draft of the amendments that are being proposed, go to the county's website to access the staff reports for Chapters 3 and 4 at http://summitcounty.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_03012017-1091?html=true.