Summit County Council delays decision on East Side zoning again
The new zoning districts that are being considered are:
Agriculture (AG-5): one unit per five acres
Agriculture (AG-10): one unit per 10 acres
Agriculture (AG-20): one unit per 20 acres
Agriculture (Ag 40): one unit per 40 acres
Agriculture (AG-80): it replaces the current AG-100 zone
More than 150 people crowded in the Summit County Courthouse in Coalville on Wednesday hoping the Summit County Council would make a decision on the changes that have been recommended to the East Side Development Code.
It was standing room only in the Council chambers, with nearly 60 people who couldn’t fit listening in on the discussion in three separate rooms throughout the courthouse. Approximately 13,000 notices were mailed prior to the hearing, likely drawing the large crowd.
While it seemed highly likely the County Council was going to make a decision on Wednesday, County Council Chair Kim Carson said at the beginning of the meeting the notices that were sent to landowners were not done properly as per a new noticing statute. That mistake necessitated a delay in the decision.
“We will be sending out new notices that will meet those requirements,” she said. “I’m not sure how long that will take. It is a complex process. But, we will have to send out a notice that says what your current zoning is and what it will be.”
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.
East Side landowners have consistently attended the hearings to explain the impact the new zoning districts would have on their property. Several property owners continue to criticize the County Council over the proposals and insist they are deliberately taking away property rights.
Resident Earl McNeil said at the meeting the Council’s proposal is taking away from what his ancestors worked hard to achieve.
“This is very dear to me when you talk about taking away the rights that they were promised to themselves and their posterity,” he said. “This proposal that you have does just that — takes away what they had worked for. It smacks of socialism and Democrat intent to control the county and country. Someday I hope all of you will have a chance to meet my ancestors and tell them what gave you the authority and the right to take away from their descendants.”
Many others made similar comments to McNeil’s, with one resident encouraging the County Council to be cognizant of land rights because, “It’s always easy to take power away, but it’s much more difficult to manage it in a way that is beneficial to everyone.”
Some of the revisions the County Council is considering to the zoning map include an expansion of the proposed AG-5 zone directly east of the Echo Reservoir along S.R. 32 and an expansion of the proposed AG-5 zone within the Coalville annexation area east of the Coalville/Hoytsville area, according to a planning department staff report.
Three proposed amendments to the zoning districts were causing concern for those in attendance who felt they further restricted density and were somewhat unclear. The amendments are: establishing a provision for 50 percent of the base density for areas of steep slopes, wetlands within the 100-year flood plain, and geologic hazard areas in the AG-5, AG-10, AG-20, and AG-40 zoning districts; revising the proposed minimum lot-width requirement from 200 feet to 100 feet; and establishing a 100-foot setback from the Union Pacific Rail Trail.
Mike Brown, a former Eastern Summit County planning commissioner who worked on the proposals while on the commission, said the County Council has made strides with the map. However, he said the ordinance regarding the flood plain and geological hazards would create a burden for landowners.
“Now they will have to conduct a feasibility study to determine what their base density is,” he said. “And the geological hazards areas is as broad as from here to the moon. I think you should consider some of the ramifications that are associated with this.”
Another area that was addressed was the removal of the highway corridor, a zone that extended outwards from the main roads in the county that allowed development of lots.
“My family has gone from 47 lots to just two, and now those are considered to be in sensitive areas, as well,” said resident Jeff Vernon. “You’ve now either got a property that is in a wetland or a slope.”
County Council member Chris Robinson said the Council determined the highway corridor induces a row of homes along the county’s main roads. He said the AG-5 zone is an attempt to not limit homes to “a narrow strip along the road.”
“We want to get away from the idea that everyone should be along the road,” he said. “We think that is a wrong incentive, and it is not encouraging well-thought-out development. It encourages lining them up along the road, and they are going to get more and more busy.”
As the evening went on, most of the comments from those in attendance were specific to their properties and the impacts the zoning would have on them as landowners. The County Council concluded the three-hour hearing around 9 p.m.
A special work session is scheduled to be held on Feb. 16, then another public hearing notice will be sent to property owners under the new requirements. Another hearing will likely be held in March.
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.
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