Silver Creek residents upset over neighbor’s plans for indoor soccer facility
Silver Creek residents are fighting one of their neighbor’s plans to construct a large indoor soccer gym for his family on his property, claiming the facility would be out of character with the neighborhood.
About 20 people attended a Snyderville Basin Planning Commission meeting addressing the project on Tuesday. Planning commissioners spent nearly three hours reviewing a conditional-use permit application for the 14,000-square-foot private athletic facility and attached apartment. A decision was not made.
Several residents provided comments during the hearing, with most opposing the proposal. They cited concerns about whether the facility would remain private if the property is eventually sold and the impacts the building could have on their viewshed, the wildlife corridor and the carbon footprint of the neighborhood.
Marsha Hyde, a Silver Creek homeowner since 1984, said the building would be out of character with the rest of the neighborhood and runs the risk of becoming commercialized. She explained how another homeowner built a barn on their property that eventually became a riding arena and stables.
“I feel it does not fit in with what we have in the neighborhood,” she said. “I just hope that we can scale it down. I will be able to see this building from my back pasture. I don’t want to see my backyard have the same problem as the people who live near the other barns with all those horses.”
Planning commissioners are treading carefully while considering the request because the conditional-use permit would stay with the property if it is ever sold.
Constructing a private recreational facility is an allowed use in the Basin. The permit is needed because of the size of the structure.
Chief Civil Deputy Attorney Dave Thomas told commissioners it is their job to take comments from the public and county staff to direct the applicant to mitigate the impacts of the use on the neighborhood. But, he said they cannot enforce carbon footprint regulations or dictate the character of the building. He said a homeowners association would be the only organization with the ability to do that.
“You put in that reasonable mitigation,” he said to the panel. “Generally speaking, it is a rare case where you cannot approve a conditional-use permit. You can always put in reasonable conditions which could come to a point where it is not economically feasible for the applicant to do it.”
The property owner, Matthew Gilmour, said the main reason he wants to construct the building is so his mother-in-law can live in the apartment. He said the soccer field would mainly be used by his kids and other family members.
“I’m from Scotland. Soccer is just what we do back home,” he said. “I’m not going to have this as a commercial building. Not in my wildest dreams. My family is very private. My wife is a public figure and it is not something we want to impose. We want to make sure we are keeping our neighbors happy. We have our dream home and dream property. We just want to use the land and build.”
Some of the neighbors said they believe Gilmour won’t use the facility for a commercial purpose. But, they requested the Planning Commission ensure future property owners won’t have the opportunity to commercialize it by making that part of the conditions of approval. Others want to see the structure downsized.
Resident Mindy Holbrook suggested the proposal be changed in favor of a small barn or just the apartment. She also addressed elk migration, lighting and parking.
“It says the building and structures must be consistent with the adjacent buildings and development, but I don’t know how it is,” she said referring to zoning codes. “And what about landscaping? There is not much landscaping on the property now. The berm is full of noxious weeds and the property has not been taken care of.”
Scott Sharp, another neighbor, said he would be able to see the property from his house. He said the “story sounds great, but the size is too big.”
Planning Commissioners agreed to delay a decision to allow Gilmour and the project planner to sit down with county staff again to address some of the issues raised during the hearing. Commissioner John Kucera suggested the applicant better demonstrate how the building would be consistent with the neighborhood.
“From what I have heard and seen demonstrated, it isn’t,” he said. “Are these structures consistent with adjacent development? It doesn’t seem so. What I’m asking for is better articulation on some of those other items that would allow us to approve a conditional-use permit. The question is with size. Is that size reasonable?”
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Judge Jennifer Brown indicated the breadth of the day’s proceedings left her unable to render a judgment before Hideout’s first scheduled public hearing Wednesday evening.