Summit and Wasatch County Councils hold joint dinner
As population growth looms on the horizon, Summit and Wasatch County officials are trying to decide how they can work tougher to address the issues the neighboring counties are bound to face.
Last week, the County Councils sat down for an informal dinner meeting at the Red Barn, in Oakley, to discuss growth patterns and how future development in either county could impact traffic and housing for the other.
"We felt it would be important to get our commissions together to reinforce some of the data coming forth, particularly relating to transportation and transit," said Mike Davis, Wasatch County manager. "We need to be more cognizant of what we are doing and when we are doing it so we can involve other people and we don’t potentially have negative consequences because if one of us sneezes, the other can catch a cold."
Wasatch County recently received density proposals for the expansive Mayflower property surrounding the Jordanelle Reservoir, where thousands of acres are slated for development, Davis said. Wasatch County will be addressing the potential projects during the next several months.
"As we do examine those, I can see opportunities with proposed development where we will want to share that with Park City and Summit County to see if this is going to be an issue," Davis said. "A lot of that development centers around Deer Valley, which we share with Park City, and it will have negative effects on someone else if we don’t address the issues up front."
"For instance, if we develop the Jordanelle Basin-area, are we going to create transit or transportation issues for Summit County or Park City?" Davis asked.
The dinner meeting included a presentation by Shawn Seager, director of regional planning for Mountainland Association of Governments. According to Seager’s presentation, through 2050, Wasatch County is expected to experience an annual 2.4 percent population growth rate, compared to 1.8 percent in Summit County.
Council members examined the ability of the state roads, including U.S. 189, U.S. 40, Heber Main Street, and State Roads 32, 224 and 248, to handle the capacity created by the annual growth.
Kim Carson, Summit County Council chair, said the transportation presentation was the focus of the discussion during the meeting.
"We went over growth patterns, traffic patterns and the impacts that future growth and approved development could have on those traffic problems," Carson said, before adding that the discussion did not include any solutions. "We weren’t talking answers. We just looked at some of the issues that we will have to tackle. For example, most of their employees travel to Provo or Salt Lake and that will come right through our county.
"As they grow, it affects us," Carson said. "And as we grow, our spillover into their county effects them and puts more and more pressure on affordable housing and things like that."
It had been more than a year since the two councils had met in a joint setting. However, Carson and Davis said it will serve as a precursor to future meetings.
"The more we can get together in informal situations like that is the better," Carson said. "It will help us get to know each other and learn about what each other’s county is facing. We did say we should look at getting together quarterly or at least more periodically."
Davis agreed, saying Wasatch and Summit County’s staff "work closely together, but not so much on the council level."
"We feel like we should regularly meet as each of the counties work on their issues so we can bring whatever it was that we are working on to the table," Davis said. "We didn’t really solve any particular issue, it was just a way to bring those issues up and open the door."
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