East Side shows up en masse for zoning hearing
Before Thursday, Larry and Tracy Stevens were unaware of the effects the new zoning districts that are being proposed for eastern Summit County would have on their property.
"I just found out for the first time tonight and it is a huge negative impact," Tracy Stevens, a Peoa resident, said in an interview with The Park Record. "We’re not interested in developing, but it means that everyone around us could start developing one-acre parcels.
"It is frightening, especially as the farmers age and the taxes go up," Stevens said.
The three new agricultural-based zoning districts and three rezone opportunities that are being proposed are:
- Agricultural (AG-1): one unit per acre
- Agricultural (AG-6): one unit per six acres
- Agricultural (AG-20): one unit per 20 acres
- Rural Residential (RR): one unit per acre
- Residential Subdivision (RS): three units per acre
- Recreation Commercial (RC)
The Agriculture (AG-1) zone would extend the current highway corridor to 500 feet along all county roads, except Democrat Alley in Oakley and Rob Young Lane near Peoa. Prior to 2004, the highway corridor had a 500-foot-setback.
More than 150 attended the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission hearing Thursday night at North Summit Middle School, spilling onto the stairs in the Commons Area. Summit County Council member Dave Ure, Summit County Planning and zoning administrator Peter Barnes, deputy county attorney Helen Strachan, and planners Sean Lewis, Jennifer Strader and Ray Milliner were also in attendance.
The hearing was the first opportunity property owners have had to publicly comment on the new zoning districts and amendments to the East Side Development Code that are being considered. Staff and commissioners have been working on drafting the districts and amendments for nearly two years.
Pat Putt, Summit County Development Director, said the new districts were formed under the notion of balancing property rights against the reality that growth is imminent.
"We need to organize, facilitate and manage that growth," Putt told the audience.
The new zoning districts and rezone opportunities are intended to create more density and give property owners more freedom to manage their land, officials say.
"We are talking about basing development rights on zone compliance and not necessarily solely on when a property was purchased," Putt said. "And for all practical purposes we have gotten rid of this idea of a ‘lot of record’ and are talking about evaluating your property on whether or not it needs zoning."
All the zones that are being proposed are agriculture-based districts to recognize that as a primary use, according to Chris Ure, Planning Commission chair.
"If you are part of a conservation easement or AG-protection, we are not taking anything away from you on that property that you own," Ure said.
Several dozen property owners provided input during the hearing, with comments ranging from support to staunch opposition. One comment referred to the changes as a "scatter-gun approach" to zoning.
Marci Burrell, Francis City Planner, testified that Francis city is opposed to extending the highway corridor because of the influx of homes it could encourage.
"The additional population would have a huge impact on our county roads and infrastructure," Burrell said. "We encourage the AG-40 zone around the city and that would entice owners to annex into the city and allow Francis to grow in an organized fashion. Our annexation is directly affect by the AG-6 that is proposed and we would like to keep the AG-40 zoning as it is in Francis."
Ardith Knudson, a Wanship property owner, said she attended the hearing to gain a better understanding of how the new zones could affect her property. However, Knudson said "I think we will be just fine."
As he was leaving the hearing, Dennis Rees, a Hoytsville property owner, said he "thinks it sounds pretty good, before adding "But, I think they need to let me see a finished product before I make my final decision."
Ken Brown, a Hoytsville property owner, said the changes will allow for "reasonable growth" and provide more opportunities for property owners.
"For years and years and years this county has been very restrictive and you had to have 40 acres before you were able to do anything," Brown said. "This opens that up and while no one is saying to me I have to do anything, they are saying you have this opportunity."
Thursday’s public hearing was the first of at least two that will be held. The next hearing will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, in the auditorium of South Summit Middle School, in Kamas.
Ure has previously told The Park Record that he would like to forward a recommendation to the Summit County Council by the end of November. The County Council will ultimately approve the changes.
County Council members met with Planning Commissioners Wednesday during a work session to discuss the philosophies behind establishing the new districts. Council members and commissioners spent more than an hour exploring the amendments and new districts.
For more information about the zoning districts and amendments, contact the planning department contact the planning department at (435) 336-3124 or stop by the County Courthouse, 60 N. Main Street, in Coalville. A draft of the zoning districts is available online at http://www.summitcounty.org/590/Eastern-Summit-County-Planning-District.
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.