No decision on proposed group home in the Snyderville Basin |

No decision on proposed group home in the Snyderville Basin

Snyderville Basin Planning Commission tabled the discussion until more information from county staff, applicant could be provided

The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission didn’t decide whether a residential treatment and social detox facility on Highland Drive would receive a conditional-use permit on Tuesday and instead tabled the discussion until more information could be provided. Those living in the neighborhood have several concerns about the project because of its size, level of staffing and privacy.
Park Record file photo

The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission didn’t decide whether a residential treatment and social detox facility would receive a conditional-use permit in the Highland Estates area on Tuesday and instead tabled the discussion until more information could be provided.

Representatives of the Wasatch Crest Treatment Facility project, located at the former BeeHive Home, which was once a 1,000-square-foot assisted-living facility on Highland Drive, presented a new proposal to the Planning Commission addressing concerns from neighbors in the area. Despite the changes, Planning Commissioners questioned the treatment facility’s occupancy and the panel’s legal obligation to approve the application.

Jim Huffman, the founder of Wasatch Crest, provided the Planning Commission with several proposed solutions to problems brought up by residents during an April meeting to discuss the project. He said the new proposal addresses the fears of homeowners.

Under the new project, the occupancy was reduced from 32 to 28 adults and could include up to 12 clients on the social detox side, with 16 receiving residential treatment. Huffman anticipates there will be between 22 and 24 clients on average based on Wasatch Crest’s annual census. He said the facility exceeded the requirements of state law with a higher number of beds, but the organization heard the concerns of residents over the number of clients. The additional space will also allow for two new areas in the facility, such as an administrative area or a client lounge.

During the public hearing, residents said the number was still too high. They called for the occupancy to be reduced to 16 beds, as it was when BeeHive Home was operating. Several Planning Commissioners agreed, saying reducing clients could assist with mitigating other community impacts.

Huffman also addressed community comments about the center’s quality of care. Residents previously said they were worried about staffing levels and the facility’s security. Huffman said Wasatch Crest wants to provide excellent service as one of the first facilities of its kind in the Park City area and that its proposed workforce surpasses the state’s standards. They’re planning to hire a designated manager, two licensed medical professionals, seven licensed clinical professionals and four to six nurses working at all hours.

Still, residents expressed concerns about the site plan, parking, trash, smoking and privacy.

Paxton Guymon, a land-use attorney representing Wasatch Crest, advised the Planning Commission about local code standards compared to state law. He said the project could not be denied based on public comment, and there needs to be a reason for the panel to reject it.

He also agreed with a staff report that said a conditional-use permit could not be denied for how the facility will be used to house people with substance use disorder as they are considered disabled and protected from discrimination.

“You’d be treading on very thin ice to deny a conditional use where the applicant has gone to such extent to mitigate the reasonably anticipated detrimental effects for a group of housing that is protected under state and federal law,” Guymon said.

However, Planning Commissioner Thomas Cooke questioned whether Utah’s fair housing laws apply. Lynda Viti, a county deputy attorney, told the Planning Commission the language in the staff report is not accurate, and state law only applies to certain physical or mental disabilities and doesn’t include people who struggle with using controlled substances.

“The point that I’m bringing up is … in the past, we have been told that anytime there’s a treatment facility or mental health facility or a group home, that we are automatically obligated to approve it because it’s a protected class,” Cooke said. “I have to be really clear, this idea that there’s nothing we can do and it’s a protected class and we just have to automatically approve it, based on what I’m reading, and based on the advice of our counsel, that’s actually not true – so the idea that we’re treading on thin ice, what we’re really talking about here is mitigating the known impacts to the community.”

Members of the Planning Commission seemed to agree more information and clarification on the legal process were needed before the application could be approved or denied. They also called for more communication between the neighborhood and Wasatch Crest to answer lingering questions from the community and fully address their concerns. The discussion will continue at a later date once the Planning Commission receives more legal insight and information about the project.

“I don’t think we have all the right answers,” Planning Commissioner Tyann Mooney said. “I don’t want to nix it … I think it could be a really lovely facility and help a lot of people. I think there are so many things we have to look at – there are just so many things that need to be fixed for this to be a possibility.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Park City and Summit County make the Park Record's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.