Historic preservation language going to County Council
September 25, 2015
New language being proposed for the Snyderville Basin Development Code on preserving historic structures is intended to give land owners more flexibility with their property, while limiting the impacts any new uses may have on surrounding residents, says Summit County Planner Ray Milliner.
Tuesday, the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission agreed to forward the suggested amendments to the Summit County Council following a public hearing at the Sheldon Richins Building. The County Council is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, Sept. 30.
The planning commission has held two public hearings on the language, including Tuesday’s, and no one has provided comment. However, Milliner said the county has received some calls for and against the changes.
Of the dozens of buildings and homes in Summit County listed on the National Register of Historic Places, most of them are in Park City proper. However, several in the Snyderville Basin would be subject to the new language.
- Some of the new regulations in the section on preserving historically significant structures include:
- No increase in density above what is allowed in the zone district
- New uses must be confined to the historic structure
- Before any review for new uses, the property owner must demonstrate the structure is historically significant
Milliner said the intent is to allow new uses, while preserving a structure and limiting the impacts it may have on neighbors. One component of the General Plan states that the county should consider "appropriate incentives to property owners for the purposes of preserving heritage amenities."
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Staff also expanded the lists of allowed uses to include pet services and grooming, retail sales for either food or general, veterinarian, and seasonal plant and agricultural sales.
"I think it does a much better job of limiting the uses, while giving people opportunity," Milliner said.
Earlier this year, the County Council instructed planning staff to draft new language for the section on preserving historic structures because the previous language in the development code was too broad and provided loopholes.
"It a little open ended," Milliner said. "It said you could have any use, provided you meet the low-impact criteria, and any use is, well, anything. It didn’t have any mitigation measures and it was like you could just go to town on the place."
When the planning department received two applications, one for the Bill White Farms and another for a project on the Bitner Ranch, it raised some concerns among staff about the open-ended freedom the language provided to property owners. Milliner said no one had used that section of the code to apply for new uses before.
"Once we processed those two applications, the planning commission and council figured we should nip this in the bud before someone does something that is egregious," Milliner said. "The point isn’t to give rights to massive development, it is to preserve a house."
As a result, the County Council adopted a temporary ordinance removing the language from the section in April. It is set to expire in October.
The planning commission’s recommendation will go before the County Council and another hearing will be held before the language is adopted into code.
Pete Gillwald, a land planner working with the Bitner Ranch owners, said if the new language is adopted, it won’t affect that project. However, Gillwald said he is concerned that the language could become overly restrictive and violate the General Plan.
"Under the new language Bill White would have never been able to do what happened on 224. That wouldn’t have been allowed and I don’t know that that jives with the General Plan," Gillwald said. "I think it does iron out some of the flexibility, but the true test will be if someone tries to apply for one of the new uses."
To view the draft language on preserving historical structures, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/2480.