Housing project on Rasmussen Road gets a thumbs up | ParkRecord.com

Housing project on Rasmussen Road gets a thumbs up

The applicant for a proposed housing and commercial retail project along Rasmussen Road cleared one of the first hurdles in the development process last week despite concerns that the community will have a negative impact on the area.

The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission unanimously agreed to forward a positive recommendation to the Summit County Council on Jan. 9 for the rezone request for a 22-acre parcel to develop a mixed-use neighborhood. Commissioner Chuck Klingenstein was not present for the vote.

Red Gate Properties, LLC, a Salt Lake City-based development firm, is asking to build 108 multi-family units. The project would also include 8,200 square feet of neighborhood retail and access to public trails. The site is located adjacent to the Park City RV Resort/Campground on Rasmussen Road.

The proposal includes 40 percent affordable housing. It doubles the Basin's requirement for only 20 percent, which for this project would equal about 13 units.

"We were excited they were looking to double the amount of affordable housing," said Canice Harte, Planning Commission chair. Most of the discussion surrounding the project has focused on whether it meets a specific component of the Snyderville Basin's General Plan. The General Plan is intended to guide future land uses and patterns of development.

Policy 2.3 was created to prevent any new development until existing entitlements and density was significantly exhausted. A clause within the policy, however, allows the county to approve the project if it presents a "compelling countervailing public interest."

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"The affordable housing, dedicated space for a trailhead and trail access, as well as including a bus stop, we thought that met what was our understanding of a countervailing interest," Harte said.

Resident Tom Horton, former member of Park City's affordable housing commission, said he loves the project and the affordable housing component. He said it is a "good project at the right time."

"I think this is the picture of a project that is crossing all the T's and dotting all the I's, including the transit design," he said during the meeting. "It is the picture of a developer and staff working together well and picture of a developer trying to do the right thing for Summit County."

Other members of the public who spoke at the hearing said Rasmussen Road is the wrong location for the project because of its impact on the environment and wildlife.

Mary Perry, a member of the East Canyon Creek Watershed Committee, said the group is concerned about runoff from the community and its close proximity to the creek.

"We know we need affordable housing in Summit County," she said. "But, with that being said, our concern and my concern is it seems we are trying to pack in so many units along East Canyon Creek. This is one of the few true waterways we have in our county. I think we need to be considerate of what effects, environmentally, we are giving to that area."

Eric Hitzelberger, a Kimball Junction resident, said he also worries about storm water runoff when it comes to low-income housing or apartments.

"If they have a need for low-income housing, they might not be able to afford mechanics and may be doing some work in their garage or parking lot and changing oil where they shouldn't be," he said at the meeting. "That's a big worry for me."

Hitzelberger suggested those who live in deed-restricted housing may also be "fishing for lunch there at the creek and taking the fish out that should not be used." He said the county likely needs affordable housing for those who are well below the average median income, but not in this location.

"This is a hard site to sign that up for," he said. "It's really a hard impact on the environment."

Harte said the environmental impacts are valid concerns and the Planning Commission will take that into consideration and do "everything to mitigate it." However, he also said the commission is guided by the concept that the property owner has property rights.

Peter Corroon, project developer, said in an interview on Monday the concerns about the environmental and wildlife impact will be incorporated into the design of the project. He said the site won't be developed within 150 feet of the creek. He added, "We are also willing to set aside some of the property for trail and wildlife habitat."

Corroon briefly addressed Hitzelberger's comments about the demographics of the people who may live in the affordable units, countering his notion that they will harm the environment.

"It doesn't matter if you're rich or not, people can be respectful of their community," he said. "If someone lives in affordable housing units, it doesn't mean they won't be."

Corroon said he is "obviously very excited" to have the project move forward. If the County Council approves a rezone request, Corroon's firm would need to apply for a conditional-use permit and create a development agreement with the Planning Commission. The item has not been scheduled yet to go before the County Council.

"This is just the first hurdle of many to come," he said. "We are excited, but still have to be cautiously optimistic that we can get through the rest of the hurdles."