Kamas Valley residents weary of new zoning
November 4, 2015
When Jan Perkins moved to Oakley 13 years ago, her house was surrounded by open space in the Kamas Valley.
"That’s why I moved here, I was out in the country," Perkins said. "Now I am in the middle of suburban density."
Perkins says she is one of several residents in the Kamas Valley who are concerned about how the new zoning districts that are being considered for eastern Summit County will only exacerbate the issue.
"We hear all about people’s property rights, but the person that is impacted by someone exercising their rights is next door," Perkins said.
Eastern Summit County Planning Commissioners are in the process of proposing several new agriculture-based zoning districts to the East Side and extending the highway corridor, except along Democrat Alley, in Oakley, and Rob Young Lane, in Peoa.
An extended highway corridor and the additional zoning districts, Agricultural (AG-1), Agricultural (AG-6), and Agricultural (AG-20), will increase allowable density in several areas by lowering the acreage to provide more flexibility for property owners, officials say.
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Perkins helped facilitate an informational meeting Monday in Oakley to address the changes ahead of a public hearing scheduled for Thursday. More than 50 attended, including Peter Barnes, Summit County zoning and planning administrator. The Planning Commission held its first public hearing about the zoning and Development Code changes last month. More than 150 people attended, including Perkins.
"There are a large number of people who didn’t even know about the proposed rezoning until about two weeks ago, even though the county has been working on it for a year and a half," Perkins said. "People need to become more aware about it because it is implied from the county that this is only directly affecting those whose property is being rezoned. In my opinion, I strongly disagree because it affects all of us in a variety of ways and what is proposed would have such significant impacts on all of our lives."
Barnes spent nearly two hours explaining how the zoning districts will function in the context of the Kamas Valley and taking questions. However, he emphasized that the Eastern Summit County Development Code has no jurisdiction within the boundaries of any East Side cities.
"The direct impacts will be on those who live outside of the city, though there will be an indirect effect on the city," Barnes said. "We do not want to compete with the city."
Several residents raised questions about the impacts on water, agriculture and traffic.
"If we are trying to maintain an agriculture identity, lowering the acreage seems contradictory to that," one woman testified.
"Increasing the density actually promotes more use than what we have now," another man answered.
South Summit residents have been more skeptical of the potential impacts of the new zoning districts. At the last meeting, Francis City officials said they are not in support of the extended highway corridor.
"The North Side is more supportive," Barnes said. "The South Side has had more experience of the impacts of growth, but the North Side is looking forward to the impacts, such as more infrastructure."
The Eastern Summit County Planning Commission will hold another public hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, in the South Summit Middle School auditorium. Commissioners have said they would like to have a recommendation forwarded to the County Council sometime this month. Additional hearings will be held at the council-level.
"I am adamantly opposed to this rezone in the Kamas Valley area," Perkins said in an email to The Park Record after the meeting. "If there is growth, I would rather see the density in the cities and leave the rural areas alone. There are so many devastating consequences to our rural open space in this proposal. Growth belongs in cities where there are sewer systems and infrastructure to support it.
"The proposal is a recipe for urban sprawl," Perkins wrote. "And, I still want to know what’s really driving this proposal. What or who is hiding under the surface?"
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