Summit County Council: Basin General Plan still needs work
Two components of the Snyderville Basin General Plan that county staff have stressed as pertinent to the revised version of the guiding document dominated Wednesday’s hearing, as residents testified to their wariness of the policies’ future implications on development and growth.
The Summit County Council ultimately decided not to approve Phase 2 of the General Plan, which is intended to address future land uses and patterns of development.
"There is still some work to be done and I think we need more meetings to do it," County Council member Roger Armstrong said. "The more we hear from residents, the better. I think we have to go through some more brain cramps before we can fix it and arrive at something that is acceptable."
The two policies causing the most concern for residents are found in the land use and open space chapters.
According to the General Plan, Policy 2.3 states that no new entitlements will be approved until "existing entitlements are significantly exhausted," which staff has identified as one of the major pillars of Phase 2.
Summit County Development Director Pat Putt has said that part of the challenge is dealing with what hasn’t been built yet in the undeveloped parcels on the west side of the county.
Bill Coleman, a Park City real estate executive, said that rule could hinder future community benefits that certain developments might yield.
"The problem that exists in 2.3 is it’s indicating there will be no increase over-base zoning in spite of what might be a very good opportunity to develop something not unlike Silver Creek Village which is something that is actually solving more problems with lower price housing in the community," Coleman said.
For Pete Gillwald, a Pinebrook resident, the policy’s unknown sunset date is troubling.
"This could go on the next three to five years," he said. "My concern is you have landowners who may not have the luxury of time. There are issues out there that need to be resolved. We hear the county is establishing certain timelines for transportation, but if there is no planning guideline in place, then we will be behind the eight-ball."
Residents also overwhelmingly testified against Policy 3.2, which states "prior to the recordation of conservation easements or deed restrictions for the long term preservation of open space, the transportation value of the property should be studied and if necessary, easements recorded," alluding to the establishment of transportation corridors.
Wendy Fisher, executive director of Utah Open Lands, said while she is "very in favor" of the county conducting transportation planning, she said the new language could have some "unintended consequences."
"The transportation value should be studied and, if necessary, easements recorded," Fisher said. "But you’ll have a chilling effect. Most of the landowners who love their land don’t see it as a transportation corridor. I think it is incredibly important to solve transportation, but the open space that is not creating development and traffic jams is not necessarily the problem."
Cheryl Fox, executive director of Summit Land Conservancy, also expressed concerns about the policy’s implications for private landowners of large parcels.
"I have heard from private landowners who are very concerned that if they were to donate a conservation easement that it could just go out of the room," Fox said. "And as one gentleman said, ‘Why would I do that instead of just developing myself if is going to be developed in the long run?"
"What I am afraid with this amendment is that it applies not just to public property but also private property," she added.
Fox suggested removing the amendment from the General Plan to perhaps allow the Basin Open Space Advisory Committee to adopt the policy. She said the emphasis on identifying transportation corridors does not coincide with the General Plan’s vision statement which lists open space, recreation and walkability among its top priorities.
After nearly two hours of discussion, County Council members were receptive to residents’ comments and unanimously agreed to keep the public hearing open to allow county staff to address the concerns raised during the hearing. County Council member Chris Robinson was absent from the meeting.
"I’m uncomfortable, at a minimum, with the wording," County Council member Claudia McMullin said of policy 2.3 "I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of no more zoning."
Additionally, McMullin said she "totally agrees" with residents’ comments about policy 3.2.
"It was never our intent to impact conservation values by taking into account transportation corridors," she said. "That should be something BOSAC (Basin Open Space Advisory Committee) takes into account."
County Council member Dave Ure said he personally believes the number one issue facing the area is transportation. However, he also acknowledged the potential for unintended consequences.
"Sometimes you want things so bad you don’t read the language," Ure said.
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