Summit County Council delays decision on Bitner housing project
March 5, 2019
The Summit County Council last week revisited the housing and retail project proposed on Bitner Road in Kimball Junction and determined the plan has changed enough in recent months to require further review of the application.
The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission first endorsed the project, known as Lincoln Station, in May when it approved a conditional use permit. It was the first time the planning panel had approved new development since the adoption of the General Plan in 2015.
At the time, the approval was for 10 townhomes, 36 one-bedroom and 32 two-bedroom apartments, as well as 5,000 square feet of commercial space. Of the 78 units, 31 were going to be deed restricted as affordable housing.
However, once the project went before the County Council in late summer, slight changes had been made to the proposal, including placing deed restrictions on more units and requiring renewable energy efficiency standards on the building. The number of total units decreased by two and the number of deed restricted units went up to 52.
Jennifer Strader, a Summit County planner, told Councilors last week that the project's changes modified the site plan enough that it doesn't comply with the development code anymore. She recommended the project go back before the Planning Commission, a suggestion the developer, Vincent Criscione, was not in favor of.
"Providing affordable housing in Summit County is difficult," Criscione said at the meeting. "I've been striving to do that collaboratively and holistically this whole time. I am trying to touch on three Summit County primary objectives: transportation, sustainability and affordable housing. It's not easy to do and the last thing I really want to do is start over."
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The County Council is reviewing the request to rezone the property from rural residential to community commercial to allow for more development. The property is currently zoned to allow one residential unit per 20 acres. In a community commercial zone, multi-family residential units are allowed through a conditional-use permit process, which the Planning Commission already approved for the previous iteration of the project.
Most of last week's discussion focused on whether the revisions substantially changed the permit the planning panel approved. Elected officials spoke at length about the development agreement to ensure the affordable housing units will only be available to Summit County workers.
The County Council is expected to review the development agreement again on Wednesday. If the document is approved, the project would go back before the Planning Commission. County Council Chair Roger Armstrong does not anticipate the commission's review will significantly slowing down the process.
"Will the commission have to start over?" Armstrong said in an interview. "Are the changes that we are talking about here substantially different than what the Planning Commission analyzed and approved? It's not. We reduced the units and expanded the retail space. It's not a gigantic change from what the Planning Commission approved before."
Criscione said in an email Monday that he is not opposed to the Planning Commission reviewing the permit again as long as it doesn't delay the County Council's review of the development agreement and rezone application.
"Yes we have been frustrated with how long the process has taken, but we have never felt like we were wasting our time," he said. "We are looking forward to the Council approving the project at the next meeting."
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