Snyderville Basin CORE housing project closer to final approval
The Discovery CORE project, a mixed affordable housing development slated for the open space west of Gorgoza Park, is edging closer to final approval.
Summit County staff have been presented with more than 20 iterations of the Discovery CORE project since 2014. The project was approved for up to 105 units in 2011. Last week, staff determined that the applicant now has an iteration that meets the county’s accepted design standards.
A work session was held before the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission on Aug. 23 regarding final plat approval. After the discussion, which didn’t end until midnight, one of the lingering issues that remained for commissioners was the affordable housing component.
“The main discussion point was why they were segregating all the units,” said Amir Caus, Summit County planner.
The layout of the project creates development bubbles throughout the site, located behind the Weilenmann School of Discovery and near the entrance to Toll Canyon. One of the current proposals shows 46 townhome units (30 affordable and 16 market rate) on the western portion of the project and 49 single-family units to the east. Another option for integrating shows 29 units that would be spread throughout the development.
Scott Loomis, executive director of Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, said he has been under the impression that the project required 60 percent market rate units to 40 percent or 23 affordable housing units. Now the project requires 30 affordable units, he said.
“We thought that by getting 46 units, 23 of which would be affordable, and the balance of them being affordable and/or attainable would be integration of its own. And there would be several level of incomes,” Loomis said. “What we are going to do at the next hearing is to show them what integration of roughly 50 percent in the townhouses will look like versus if we had all 30 units spread out.”
Michael Milner, one of the property owners and the applicant, said “our goal isn’t segregation,” but to get as many affordable units as possible.
“We can do more for our buck with townhomes than we can with single-family lots,” Milner said. “But I also see the commission’s point about wanting a certain element of blend and not a segregated point. That’s what we still need to work out: the type, the amount and the location of the affordable housing.
“We have been in the process for a long time, actually many years, and we have worked through all of our issues with the engineering department and we have worked out all of our issues with staff,” he said. “But in the end, I think we are building a project that will be a model for affordable housing in the community.”
The Discovery CORE project was approved under the Community Oriented Residential Enhancement Zones program in October of 2011. The program was adopted to meet a goal of providing 600 affordable housing units by 2010.
According to a planning department staff report, a lawsuit in opposition of the project was filed by Citizens for the Alignment of Growth and the Environment (CAGE) following the designation approval. A court order stipulated that the project meet specific requirements concerning issue such as bridges, outdoor lighting, road construction and access to Toll Canyon. The applicant has been denied final plat approval several times since 2013.
Andy Kitchen, project manager for Discovery CORE, said the unique nature of the site has led to several iterations. However, he said most of the issues concerning open space, trails and traffic have been settled. The development is expected to provide 51 acres of open space.
“It has a lot of potential,” Kitchen said of the site. “But sometimes we get down into the trenches about the details and we forget to pop back out and see what this is really providing. Some of the major concerns in the past with viewshed, corridor protection and open space have been worked out.”
Basin commissioners are scheduled to address the project and the affordable housing issue in a work session at 5 p.m. on Sept. 13, at the Sheldon Richins Building. A public hearing is tentatively scheduled on Sept. 27. Summit County Manager Tom Fisher will have final approval.
Pending approval, the applicants are hoping to begin grading work in the fall with a project completion date of fall 2017.
Jennifer McDonald, a self-described lifelong Republican, was selected as the Summit County Republican Party chair last week.