Eastern Summit County’s proposed zoning map scrutinized
Daniel Richins hasn’t followed the discussions about the new zoning districts that are being considered for the East Side as closely as some others have over the last few years. However, Richins said he recently has paid enough attention to what is being proposed to know that he supports it.
Richins is a father of five and a lifelong Summit County resident. He lives in Henefer and owns property in Coalville and along Chalk Creek Road. Richins said he has "a 160-acre property that I can’t do anything with except for have one house on." At a Dec. 3 hearing, planning commissioners approved, 5-2, an Agriculture (AG-6) zone that would extend 1,000 feet from the center of Chalk Creek Road from the eastern boundary of Coalville to the Wyoming state line.
"The landowners’ hands are tied right now as to what they can do with their property," Richins said. "Everyone talks about how if they give us more options we will sell it off and that’s not what we are going to do. Everyone I have talked to in the Chalk Creek area wants the zoning cut down so they can have lots for their kids.
"I have worked this ground my whole life and my parents worked it their whole life too, but my kids won’t have that opportunity if this doesn’t change," he said. "I bring a lot of economic value to this community and if I can’t pass my business to my kid he is going to go somewhere else to do it."
Richins was one of about 15 people who attended the Summit County Council’s joint discussion with the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission on Wednesday about the amendments to the Eastern Summit Development Code and zoning map. On Feb. 8, the planning commission forwarded a positive recommendation to the County Council. The vote was split 4-3, with Doug Clyde, Ken Henrie and Tonja Hanson dissenting. Wednesday was the County Council’s first opportunity to view the proposal.
Planning commissioners and county staff have been working on the changes to the development code and zoning maps for the last few years. More than 30 work sessions and 20 public hearings have been held to date. It has proved to be a divisive issue and the hearings have drawn hundreds of residents.
Officials are attempting to create several new zoning districts to increase allowable density in unincorporated areas to provide more flexibility for property owners.
The new zoning districts being considered are:
- Agriculture (AG-1): one unit per acre
- Agriculture (AG-6): one unit per six acres
- Agriculture (AG-20): one unit per 20 acres
- Agriculture (AG-80): it replaces the current AG-100 and AG-160 zones
The following rezone opportunities are also being considered, but were not included in the current recommendation:
- Rural Residential (R-R): one unit per one acre
- Residential Subdivision (RS): three units per acre
- Recreation Commercial (RC)
- Village overlay zone
The districts would include the new Agriculture (AG-1) zone that will extend 500 feet from the center line of all county roads and replace the current highway corridor, except along Democrat Alley and Boulderville Road in Oakley and Rob Young Lane near Peoa.
Pat Putt, director of community development, said the map and code amendments are the solution to "a code that had a lot of problems."
"The area we spent the most time with is the whole idea of establishing a new base map," Putt said. "The key distinction between what we are proposing now and what we have today is that there few limited options from that zoning map to change to something else.
"The base map will be a new starting point and an opportunity to rezone and develop in other ways," Putt said.
The zones and the allowable densities in those areas have been the main points of contention among commissioners.
"I have voiced an objection to the AG-1 because the reason is we call it AG and we allow AG uses on one-acre lots, which is not an agriculture lot," said Henrie. "The naming of it and the allowed uses seems awkward and it is creating conflict. It spreads the highest density possible along all of our major roads."
Wednesday’s discussion was listed as a work session and attended by several staff members and former East Side planning commissioner, Jeff Vernon. It lasted for approximately 90 minutes.
Roger Armstrong, County Council chair, said the purpose of the meeting was to set the stage for the conversations that will take place over the next several weeks.
"The single most important thing was to make sure that we have a basic understanding of what the public concerns are among East Side residents and what the planning commission was solving with the development code and zoning map," Armstrong said. "Over the next several sessions will be having the planning department explain what’s on the ground, how and why they made the decisions and how it all fits."
Officials have said the process will remain public and include several additional hearings in front of the County Council. Another work session has not yet been scheduled.
Richins said he is fearful that if landowners don’t stay involved at the level they are right now then property rights will continue to diminish.
"It will get cut back even further than it already is now," Richins said. "We had a lot more rights in 2004 and we are only getting half of that back, but tonight they were talking about restricting it even more. The local people are getting pushed back by the move-in people and if you talk to residents and people who ranch and farm and they want to stay, but their options are limited."
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Utah’s legislative general session is set to end on Friday, and if history is any indicator, there will be a flurry of floor amendments and last-minute changes for county officials to monitor.