Panel worries project violates growth plan
The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission continued to debate on Nov. 28 whether a housing project proposed on Rasmussen Road violates the “no new entitlements” policy in the Basin’s General Plan or presents a “compelling countervailing public interest” to warrant approval.
The General Plan, which governs growth and development in the Basin, includes a policy restricting new development entitlements beyond what is already approved. It was the most contentious component of the plan when it was approved two years ago.
At the time, Summit County leaders’ intent was to restrict new development until as many as 3,000 residential units and millions of square feet of commercial space that are already approved start getting built. Now commissioners are questioning whether that component of the General Plan should be reconsidered.
Planning commissioners were seemingly supportive of the project – a mixed-use neighborhood that would contain 102 units, including 40 deed-restricted affordable units – and said it would likely be beneficial to the area during a recent hearing. The proposed site is located on Rasmussen Road adjacent to the Park City R.V. Resort/Campground.
“I think the project is interesting and well thought out,” said Planning Commissioner Joel Fine. “If I was king for the day I’d say let’s stop anything and everything that is going on and deal with the General Plan, update it and recommend changes to move on. I know that’s not realistic so we just keep kicking this can down the road and it’s frustrating.”
The applicant, Red Gate Properties, LLC, a Salt Lake City-based development firm, is requesting to rezone the 22-acre parcel to develop a mixed-use neighborhood. A mixed-use zone does not currently exist in the Basin’s Development Code. The property is currently zoned to allow one residential unit per 20 acres.
The applicants are asking to change the zone from rural residential to a community commercial zone to allow more development. In a community commercial zone, multi-family residential units are allowed through a conditional-use permit process without a specific density allotment, according to a Planning Department staff report.
The applicants told commissioners they do not currently own the property because it is under contract and that they opted to extend the due-diligence period to gain a better understanding of whether the Commission would be in favor of approval. They said they have until mid-January to determine whether to move forward with the purchase.
Commissioners spent most of the hearing on Tuesday discussing the impacts of the “no new entitlements” policy on their decision to possibly move forward with the project. They did not explore the details of the project in depth.
Commission Chair Canice Harte said keeping the area zoned as rural residential is not practical. However, he said the Summit County Council will likely have to weigh in on the discussion.
“Absent of guidance we are getting a lot of questions,” he said. “I think everyone wants clear guidance of how to address this. But, I think affordable housing is worthy of consideration and it is something I would like to see us explore.”
While the General Plan restricts the ability to grant new entitlements, it does provide circumstances under which a new project could be approved, including when a “compelling countervailing public interest that cannot be reasonably satisfied without expanding one or more entitlements” is identified.
Planning Commissioner Chuck Klingenstein, who was a commissioner at the time of the General Plan’s rewrite, said when the policy was approved to halt new development, there were a significant amount of entitlements that were approved and waiting to be built.
“That has been somewhat eaten away at now,” he said. “The other reason we did it was to buy us some time to get our tools in house in order. Unfortunately, the cascade of projects we have has somewhat overwhelmed the pipeline. Let’s start getting back to the implementation of the General Plan. We should first try to get the development code to mirror the General Plan.
“What’s interesting about this is the new zone encourages additional affordable housing,” he added. “This may be a litmus test for the Council where, if we can come up with an approval, they can take a look at and say, ‘This can work.’”
To view the staff report prepared in anticipation of the Nov. 28 hearing, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/6953.
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