Summit County Council: ‘concerns are misguided’
June 19, 2015
During the days leading up to the Summit County Council’s final hearing on Phase 2 of the Snyderville Basin General Plan, emails circulated among Jeremy Ranch residents reigniting fears about an expansion to a mixed-use space at the neighborhood’s entrance.
The emails implored residents to show up to the hearing and protest the "no new entitlements" policy. More than 15 of the nearly 60 residents who attended the County Council hearing on Wednesday were from Jeremy Ranch.
Early into the discussion about the General Plan, County Council member Chris Robinson asked Summit County Development Director Pat Putt to explain the county’s position on the Jeremy Center project and how putting a hold on new entitlements could affect it.
"I don’t understand how this has morphed into the Jeremy Center project," Robinson said.
Recently, as the County Council further explored the "no new entitlements" policy within the General Plan, Jeremy Ranch residents were growing concerned that it would reopen the door to an expansion. County staff were pushing for the policy because they say it gives the county time to deal with what has already been approved and has yet to be built.
One email from residents stated "The rewording will directly affect Jeremy Ranch in the short-term and can have huge implications for what they can build on in the whole of Summit County for future endeavors. This would allow the Commission to add density to land in Summit County but most importantly it would allow the Jeremy Station property to receive more density."
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Another, from Jeremy Ranch HOA president Laura Arnold, said, "the Planning Commission decided to recommend that the JeremyStation not be made a receiving zone for increased density which was a major step in keeping the Jeremy Center project limited to 66,000 square feet, the current uses and the same density. The Summit County Commissioners appear poised to disregard this recommendation from the Planning Commission in principle This change will allow the County Commissioners to build beyond 66,000 square feet of density not only for the Jeremy Ranch area but throughout ALL of Summit County (which is now 2.5 million square feet) if they feel it is ‘needed or desired.’"
However, at the hearing, County Council and staff said those fears were based on misinformation.
"None of the language has been directly crafted to the benefit or the detriment of any particular project," Putt said. "In terms of a specific discussion, there are no current discussions at the staff level and have not been for at least six months."
About two years ago, the county Planning Department was approached by the owner of a proposed Jeremy Center site, which has an agreement for 66,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial and retail space.
The property owner submitted a letter to the county requesting a chance to submit a proposal to rework that particular plan and expand the square footage beyond the approved allotment. However, according to Putt, the County Council never received a formal application and informed the developer council members were "not interested" in any expansion of uses or square footage to that area.
While the General Plan was still in the hands of the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission, both the Pinebrook and Jeremy Ranch were considered as potential mixed use/receiving areas. That would have allowed the county to transfer development rights to create open space elsewhere.
Nearly 150 showed at a Planning Commission hearing in January to testify against that idea out of the concern it could lead to an expansion of uses the Jeremy Center. In February, it was removed from the plan.
Putt did go on to say, though, "that the policies that are expressed in this draft plan could influence a future discussion of a change to the Jeremy Center project." But he was quick to add any change to the existing agreement would have to go through the same review process as any other project.
County Council Chair Kim Carson acknowledged that councilors have to be careful in the wording of the "no new entitlements" policy to avoid "unintended consequences."
County Council member Roger Armstrong said the fear of the expansion should not cause anyone to lose sleep.
"If it comes before us, you’ll know about it. It’s not before us," Armstrong said. "Whoever stirred it up and said there is something going on, we are not arranging general plans for that area."
After staff and the council members’ comments on the Jeremy Center project, more than 10 people left the meeting. The Summit County Council ended up unanimously approving Phase 2 of the General Plan, with the controversial entitlements policy included.