East Side of Summit County mulls new zoning districts
"What a breath of fresh air, what a breath of fresh air," Carsten Mortensen told the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission on Thursday night.
Mortensen, a Hoytsville resident, made his declaration following the Planning Commission’s unveiling of the new zoning districts proposed for the East Side of the County.
The Planning Commission presented the suggested changes to the Development Code to more than 50 people on Thursday night during a standing-room only hearing at the County Courthouse, in Coalville, and received a lot of praise.
"Heading in the right direction," was the phrase most often quoted.
"I’ve spent a lot of dollars getting rezoned and its cost me a lot of money," Mortensen said. "We’d all like to be able to use our properties to the best use and I think what you have designed is just such a breath of fresh air, thank you."
County staff is suggesting creating development rights based on zoning compliance rather than the "lot of record" concept.
The new zoning districts would be:
- Agriculture (AG-1): one unit per acre
- Agriculture (AG-6): one unit per six acres
- Rural Residential (R-R): one unit per one acre
- Agricultural Residential Overlay: three units per acre, AG-1 and AG-6 only
- Residential Subdivision (RS): three unites per acre
- Recreation Commercial (RC)
"The things we are adding are, what we feel, we need to use to implement the General Plan strategy to create more opportunities for residential development," Summit County Development Director Pat Putt said.
According to officials, nearly 75 percent of properties are non-conforming in size for the zone they are located in. Non-conforming parcels do not meet the minimum size requirements of the applicable zoning district.
The creation of the additional zoning districts would essentially solve the non-conforming issue and act as "buffer zones" between the smaller and larger zones, Putt said.
"We think the creation of an AG-6 zone, applied in the right locations at the right times, might solve that non-conformity issue," Putt said. "We think there is a real potential for this zone to be a problem solver."
The suggested AG-1 zone would allow for a "fairly broad spectrum of agricultural uses," Putt said.
"We’re not saying we are going to, but we are currently exploring this might be the zone that we would replace the Highway Corridor with," Putt said. "We haven’t made that decision yet. But there are a lot of situations in the existing Highway Corridor that have agriculture uses in them and we don’t want to change a zone and all of a sudden create unintended consequences where we have created something that has been allowed for a long time but is all of a sudden non-conforming."
Planning Commission Chair Mike Brown said the commission is not steering the East Side of the county away from an agricultural-based zoning district.
"We are trying to make it predictable and trying to use the grandfather law, not as the norm, but for what is truly intended," Brown said.
The new designations being considered would allow for expanded commercial zones and an extended, AG-1 Highway Corridor along all county roads, except Democrat Alley in Oakley.
John-Eric Green, who owns property on both sides of the county, said he always felt there needed to be additional commercial zoning layers.
"Our commercial zoning doesn’t really distinguish between an office or a restaurant or gas station or convenience store," Green said. "In many situations, there is property that would maybe be appropriate for a doctor’s office or small private office building. The zoning overlay would allow that, if it was granted.
"I thin as we are looking at different zoning designations, I would encourage that we also look at the different commercial zoning," he said.
Max Chang, who owns property near Echo Reservoir, said the suggestions provide a predictable and clearly administered plan for land uses and development.
"Non-conformity puts landowners in a very precarious position," Chang said. "Our country is based on our land use and land rights and we have been strapped and handcuffed as a result of our current code."
County staff and the Planning Commission have been working on the amendments for nearly 18 months. The Eastern Summit County Development Code was last updated in 2003.
No action was taken on the suggestions on Thursday and the Planning Commission plans to hold additional hearings to allow for more public comment.
To view the staff report prepared in anticipation of this hearing, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/1658.