South Point withdraws application for large development along Brown’s Canyon Road
Residents who live along Brown’s Canyon Road may be breathing a sigh of relief this week after an application to build a large development near their homes was suddenly withdrawn from Summit County’s Planning Department late last week, less than two weeks before the matter was scheduled to go before the Summit County Council.
Francis Najafi, managing partner of South Point Utah Development, LLC, the firm that applied to add an additional 735 homes beyond the 285 that were already approved for the property, pulled the application on June 8.
South Point, which is located south of Promontory Development between the Roger’s Ranch and Black Rock Ridge development on Brown’s Canyon Road, was carved off from Promontory in 2015 and operates under its own agreement. Both Promontory Development and South Point are under the umbrella of the Pivotal Group, of which Najafi is a managing partner.
“We withdrew because they tried to shut us down,” he said in an interview. “Our confidence in the process was undermined so we withdrew to gather our thoughts and see where we are.”
South Point has approvals for an 18-hole golf course, 250 residential units and 33 employee units. The application sought to amend South Point’s development agreement to more than quadruple the allowed development for a total of 1,020 homes, including employee units, and 190,000 square feet of commercial density. In 2013, South Point assumed the responsibility to build 33 affordable units required as part of Promontory’s development agreement. Residents who live near the proposed development vehemently opposed the plan, which they felt was out of character with the area. A previous proposal included a water park, 350-room hotel and a helipad. Those were removed after significant pushback from the public.
Eastern Summit County Planning Commissioners rejected the project when it went before them for a review. The planning panel ultimately forwarded the County Council a negative recommendation for the project in January.
Pat Putt, Summit County’s community development director, said the project was originally scheduled to go before the County Council on June 13. However, the matter was not placed on that agenda and was moved to June 20. It was listed as a public hearing. Putt said Council agendas are often changed to accommodate discussions about more timely issues.
Putt said the county received a request on June 8 from the developer to table the matter. He said the request was forwarded to the county manager for a decision. But, a letter to withdraw the application was submitted to the county before a decision could be made.
“It’s a little complicated because it’s already out there that we are going to hold this meeting,” he said. “Prior to there being a decision made to grant the tabling or move forward, we were given the letter. In fairness, we were attempting a quick turnaround but they didn’t even let us do that. I don’t believe there was adequate time for a decision.”
A letter the developer submitted to the county states that the developer had “no choice but to withdraw” the application. The letter claims a public hearing would not have been an appropriate setting to have a productive dialogue about the proposal.
“All the county was trying to do was make a careful and deliberate decision on how to best serve all interest of all the parties — the applicant and community,” Putt said. “A public hearing allows everyone to have a part in the discussion. I don’t think there would have been a decision made that night, and it doesn’t mean there couldn’t have been a work session held later. We thought we were coming up with an approach that would satisfy everyone.”
Najafi disagreed. He said a work session should have been scheduled first to allow the county and the developer an opportunity to discuss the proposal.
Najafi said he was unsure what will happen next in terms of development at South Point. He said, as a managing partner of Promontory, he will now focus his attention on an application to construct the third phase of the Nicklaus Clubhouse at Promontory.
The East Side Planning Commission recently issued a negative recommendation for the clubhouse, citing what commissioners say is Promontory’s unmet requirement to build affordable housing units. Commissioners requested Promontory submit a housing plan outlining a timeline of when the employee units would be built. That was submitted to the county May 25.
But, Najafi said the clubhouse project is being held hostage. He maintained that a work session would have allowed him an opportunity to address the housing plan and the South Point proposal. He said, “We are in total compliance with all of our agreements.”
He went on to describe Promontory’s contributions to the community, in terms of tax dollar revenue, adding “We just want to focus on the positive. I don’t know why they all of sudden started picking on us.”
“Now we are getting shut down and not even given the opportunity to discuss. I think there are some larger politics at play here,” he said. “I don’t know why they are focusing on us and not on moderate-income public housing, which is what we were trying to provide in South Point, in addition to the employee housing that would meet the requirements of Promontory. The county keeps mixing South Point and Promontory together, but they are separate entities with different ownership. They are withholding our clubhouse expansion permit on the grounds of employee housing.”
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Summit County officials declared their potential conflicts of interest, with Councilors Doug Clyde and Chris Robinson offering the most extensive lists on the County Council.