Summit County Council considers temporary ordinance to regulate grading
Activity that moves more than one dump truck load of dirt would require review
March 10, 2017
The Summit County Council decided to delay a decision on a temporary zoning ordinance to regulate grading activity in the county after North Summit property owners expressed concern over the effect the ordinance would have on agriculture.
On Wednesday, county staffers urged County Council members to discuss and possibly approve the six-month ordinance for eastern Summit County and the Snyderville Basin. According to a county staff report, the ordinance would create a process to review and regulate applications for grading activity that moves more than 40-cubic yards (about one dump truck load of dirt) or changes elevation more than two feet.
"We have met with a number of people, from most of North Summit, expressing concern how this would impact what they do to move dirt," said Roger Armstrong, County Council member. "When you tell a rancher they can't move dirt they get excited quickly."
Currently, grading activity is reviewed and approved through several different processes, such as a conditional use or building permit. Occasionally, a grading permit is also reviewed and administered through the engineering department.
Pat Putt, Community Development director, said the temporary ordinance would establish a new review process for grading activity that meets the threshold. He said the interim regulations are designed to close the gaps that exist between the planning and building department.
"The threshold we have brought forward would be in situations where they are moving 40 cubic yards or more or changing elevation by more than 2 feet. Anytime that threshold is met it would trigger a low-impact permit review," Putt said.
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Putt admitted the county has fielded several phone calls from property owners about the impacts the new process would have on agricultural activity. However, Putt said as currently proposed, farming activity would be exempt from the ordinance.
"The sole reason for this is in those instances outside of our normal development permitting process. This will help us close the gap and ensure the departments are communicating well," Putt said.
According to the staff report, the ordinance would give Putt the authority as Community Development director to review proposals and "mitigate any negative impacts that may result from excessive grading." The amendments would also create a definition for development and development activity.
"We either adopt revised language or the council can elect to keep the code the way it is, but the current ordinance does allow unlimited grading without a purpose," Putt said.
Gary Horton, county engineer, said a temporary ordinance would give the planning commissions and County Council time to refine the language in the development codes to address "some of the issues we have been wrestling with recently."
A 3rd District Court judge recently overturned the County Council's decision to allow Wanship property owner Steve Luczak to continue operating his motocross track after determining the county is not barred from prohibiting the use. The track was constructed through a grading permit.
County Council members agreed to revisit the issue. They suggested holding a public hearing and allowing property owners to comment on the proposal.
"We want to make sure this doesn't create a significant burden which is why we should get feedback," Armstrong said. "We don't want to eliminate something we didn't intend to."
To view the temporary ordinance and staff report, go to https://www.summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/4647.