Summit County Council continues review of East Side Development Code
The Summit County Council held another public hearing last week about the changes that are proposed for the zoning district map for the East Side of the county, with elected leaders claiming they are “close to making a decision.”
The County Council has spent nearly two years considering the recommended amendments to the Eastern Summit County Development Code. Chapter 4, which primarily concerns the processes and procedures for applying the newly created zones, has already been approved.
In December 2015, East Side Planning Commissioners forwarded the County Council a positive recommendation on the map and amendments, but the vote was split 4-3, with Tonja Hanson, Ken Henrie and former commissioner Doug Clyde dissenting. Clyde now sits on the County Council.
East Side landowners have consistently attended the hearings to explain the impact the new zoning districts would have on their property. Several claim they would be losing density. Others have criticized the time the Council has spent reviewing the changes, pleading with them to make a decision.
Mike Brown, a North Summit landowner, said the review process has been difficult to follow. He said landowners are having a hard time providing input because it has been unclear what the Council is really considering. Brown served on the Planning Commission at the time the changes were being reviewed.
“I know people have taken shots at what we sent up,” he said during the meeting. “But, there was a couple of things we did that I’m not sure the County Council has done. The basic question you always have to ask yourself when trying to make a decision is what is the issue and what is the problem at hand? We identified the problems we felt existed and we wanted to go to a zone-based code.
“I don’t feel like you have truly identified what you are trying to solve,” he added. “Nothing has been clearly defined and that’s what’s frustrating. It feels like a moving target and we can’t even follow it.”
The agriculture zoning districts designate areas of the East Side of the county for residential use. The new zoning districts that are being considered are:
• Agriculture (AG-1):
one house per one acre
• Agriculture (AG-5):
one house per five acres
• Agriculture (AG-6):
one house per six acres
• Agriculture (AG-10):
one house per 10 acres
• Agriculture (AG-20):
one house per 20 acres
• Agriculture (Ag 40):
one house per 40 acres
• Agriculture (AG-80):
it replaces the current
An Agriculture (AG-1) zone is being proposed to replace the current highway corridor along all county roads, except Democrat Alley in Oakley and Rob Young Lane near Peoa. The AG-1 zone would extend the current highway corridor an additional 250 feet from the center of the state roads.
“To downsize us will cause a pretty major economic problem for us,” said Dave Ure, an East Side landowner and former County Council member. “Give us some tools that we might be able to use for clustering and to preserve the watershed. We need to have the opportunity to do that.”
Louise Willoughby, an East Side Planning Commissioner who voted in favor of the map and amendments, told the Council “just because landowners have the right to do something with their property doesn’t mean they will do it.
“We have been conservative on the East Side, and it feels like you are trying to babysit us,” she said during the meeting. “It feels like you think we are not intelligent. It seems like you think the only thing that matter to us is money. We have been able to manage our property quite well and I think we need to get that in mind.”
Layne Sargent, a North Summit landowner, said he has been attending meetings on the issue for 10 years and questioned why the zoning districts have not been approved.
“I don’t understand why this is such a big thing,” he said. “You make big decisions and you move on all the time, but for some reason this is not a priority for you people. Why can’t you sit down and vote on it and approve it? How much longer do we have to wait? Why can’t we put something together and vote on it and approve it? Come back and make changes on it in a year if it’s not working, but at least do something for heaven’s sake.”
The Council took public comment for nearly two hours before closing the public hearing. It will be reopened at a later date. Two Council members are expected to meet with staff in January to further discuss the zoning districts before another work session is held and a decision is made.
“We have been meeting on this regularly this whole year and had hoped to have this approved by 2017,” said County Council Chair Chris Robinson. “Now we hope to have this approved in the first quarter of 2018. I believe we are very close to being able to make a decision. We have been working on Chapter 3 (zoning districts) diligently for at least the last year and a half. We don’t want to take the approach that we will throw something up and revisit it in a year. We want a proposal that will endure the test of time.”
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