Jeremy Ranch residents pack the house
January 17, 2015
In one of Summit County’s largest recent public hearings, more than 150 residents attended the Snyderville Basin General Plan hearing on Tuesday to discuss their vision for both the community as a whole and their individual neighborhoods.
"I haven’t seen that many people at a meeting in a very long time," Summit County Community Development Director Pat Putt said. "There were probably moments when, because of the emotion, it could have gone the wrong way."
The public hearing gave Snyderville Basin residents their first opportunity to formally provide feedback on Phase 2 of the General Plan. The document serves as the county’s written and illustrative strategy to explain the visions, goals, and policies related to land use, transportation, housing, open space, the environment, and cultural resources.
"It was their opportunity to talk and the commission’s time to listen," Putt said.
The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission, county staff, and approximately 180 residents engaged in nearly three and a half hours of discussion about topics such as open space, transportation and density.
Phase 1 of the General Plan dealt with identifying the characteristics of the 16 individual neighborhoods. Those descriptions form the foundation for Phase 2 and were the focus of the hearing as residents expressed concern about potential new development that they fear could compound already existing problems.
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David Maxfield, a Kimball Junction resident, said he is an advocate of condensed, smart growth, but he wants to see clearly defined limits.
"If there were 50,000 more people that came into Fox Point or Newpark, it would change the character so dramatically and would be really bad," Maxfield said at the hearing. "With smart growth, I endorse the notion of mixed use, so that people can live, work, play and shop in their community without having to get into their car.
"But many of our amenities, things like trails and recreation opportunities, can be overwhelmed with growth of population," he said.
According to county staff, there are three major components of Phase 2:
1. No new development entitlements (beyond base zoning or existing development approvals) until these entitlements are significantly reduced and transportations problems are addressed
2. Identification and direction of where growth can best be accommodated
3. Development of policy supporting codes to move/transfer existing approved development to better achieve existing community zones
The possible transfer of development rights was the base of many attendees’ concerns because one area county staff has identified for possibly moving that development right is at the entrance to Jeremy Ranch, at the intersection of Rasmussen and Homestead roads.
On the future land use map for the individual neighborhoods, there is a label on both the Pinebrook and Jeremy Ranch sides about possible mixed use/receiving areas, potentially allowing the county to transfer development rights to create open space elsewhere.
A previous development agreement from 2005 limits the land use for retail and office space to 66,000 square feet. A recent proposal from a developer, as defined in a letter to the county, was to increase the square footage requirement to 215,000 square feet, to allow for a hotel, commercial, office and residential space
Laura Arnold, president of the Jeremy Ranch Homeowner’s Association, spoke at the hearing on behalf of the homeowners about the 11.75-acre plot and its potential future uses.
"With the new General Plan that is being presented, our way of life is being threatened," Arnold said. " using the term mixed use/receiving area, we cannot be sure of what will happen to this lot.
"If this title is allowed, it is patently unfair to the residents of Summit County, specifically Jeremy Ranch, who have made investments, purchased homes, and have made lifestyle decisions for themselves and their families based on the county’s plans already in place," she added.
The developer has yet to put in a formal application for the expansion request and county staff was quick to remind those at the public hearing that the land use maps were fluid, evolving documents.
Commission Chair Colin DeFord said the hearing was an "eye-opening experience."
"I think the big takeaway for all of us, and especially me, is that we haven’t done a good job about informing the public about what we are trying to accomplish," DeFord said. "I think that last night was great work for us to understand things like traffic congestion and density.
"First we need to fix what’s failing before we entertain anything new," he said.
The next General Plan public hearing was tentatively scheduled for the end of January, but commissioners ultimately decided to push the date back until early February to allow the county staff and plan subcommittee to revisit the document.
"We will disseminate all of the feedback and most likely take a really hard look at it to understand whether or not a receiving area for a density transfer system in a predominantly residential neighborhood is a good idea," DeFord said. "We want to have the time to really consider the feedback."
DeFord said commissioners would still like to be able to forward a recommendation to the council sometime in February. After the document is forwarded to the council, it will go through another series of public hearings before it is adopted.
"I’m pretty proud of the document," DeFord said. "I think the goals for me are that it gives us enough options later on to help us deal with all the issues that we are hearing and that are coming."