Officials say it’s time to review the Snyderville Basin Development Code
Summit County’s elected officials have renewed their desire to revisit the Snyderville Basin Development Code so it better reflects the General Plan, which governs growth and development in the Basin.
The inclination to review and possibly update the development code comes on the heels of the recent decisions reached by the Summit County Council regarding the appeals of two major projects approved by the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission.
“I think as some of these appeals and approvals are coming through, we have started to look at the code and realize we may need to revisit it so there is less room for interpretation,” said Roger Armstrong, Summit County Council member.
Last week, the County Council voted in favor of appeals of the Planning Commission’s decision to approve a contentious hotel project at the former Colby School property on S.R. 224. At the same meeting, Council members denied the appeals of the Woodward Park City action sports camp, upholding the permit and allowing the project to move forward.
“The Colby appeal was about as dense and complicated set of legal questions as you’ll find,” Armstrong said. “It was rich with legal interpretation and comprised of a complex set of laws and facts. The Planning Commission was simply relying on the advice they were given by legal in making their decision and I don’t hold them responsible for that.”
Armstrong said the denial of the appeals of the action sports camp stems from the entitlements that were granted to the landowner. He said the county is obligated to grant a landowner an application unless there is something that expressly prohibits them from being entitled to the uses they are proposing.
The appeals, Armstrong said, highlighted discrepancies in the development code and illustrated the county’s need to clarify the language for both landowners and the community.
“There are a variety of things we would like to revisit to see what we are allowed to do under state law and if there is a way to make it work better for the community and the people that want to do something with their land,” he said. “That is the right thing for us to do and something the Planning Commission has asked for. They have said, ‘Can we please take a look at this and see if we can tighten this up.”
The Planning Commission has spent a considerable amount of time over the last several years reviewing projects, such as the hotel project, action sports camp and the reconfiguration of the Canyons Village at Park City Mountain Resort. Planning Commissioners have repeatedly stated a desire to update the code for clarity and to close any perceived loopholes.
“I know they have wanted to take a look at the code and try to find some time to do that,” Armstrong said. “They are on the ground going through every aspect of it. They are the ones who are seeing the variations in the code that may be vague or may need to be clarified or changed.”
Planning Commission Chair Bea Peck said issues have been brought up throughout the review process of the projects that have allowed the planning panel, and Council, to see the strengths and weaknesses in the code.
“Now that we have somewhat of a breather, I expect us to be delving into that pretty hard,” she said. “I think that will be most helpful because there was some ambiguity and I hope that we can get that resolved.”
Peck said there have been some unintended consequences in the language and “all that needs to be looked at in good faith, and I think we now have some time to be devoted to that.” She said the development code is supposed to be molded to reflect the guidelines in the General Plan and address specific topics that are laid out in the plan, which was updated and approved in 2015.
“We have learned a lot of lessons, if you will, from some of those projects and amendments, and there are admittedly things we have to examine and analyze moving forward,” Peck said.
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