Summit County Council endorses changes to East Side code
Some residents in the east end of the county are going to be facing significant changes regarding their properties now that the County Council has finally agreed to approve the long-awaited amendments to the Eastern Summit County Development Code, while others won’t be affected at all.
The changes included critical revisions to the zoning districts and requirements, as well as the applicability of master planned developments, which the County Council has spent nearly two years considering.
The revisions affect more than 13,000 property owners on the East Side. But, many properties were grandfathered in with the same density they had prior to May 1996.
The new zoning districts 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
Pat Putt, Summit County’s community development director, said the decision on Wednesday night was an “enormous accomplishment” for the Council, the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission and staff. He said it was the culmination of five years’ worth of work.
“Many would argue it was actually more like 14 years of hard work,” Putt said. “It’s probably not accurate to suggest everyone in the community is satisfied with the outcome. Some feel it wasn’t enough. Others say it possibly went too far.”
Hundreds of East Side landowners have consistently attended the hearings to try and understand the impacts of the new zoning districts on their property. More than 30 work sessions and 22 public hearings were held on the issue at the commission level, with seven more held before the County Council.
Several property owners continued to criticize the County Council over the proposals and insist officials were aiming to deliberately take away property rights as recently as last week. Even more property owners continued to express uncertainty over what the changes would mean for their individual properties.
Some of the issues the Council discussed before approving the amendments were the designations of agricultural protection areas and the definitions of motorized versus non-motorized for open space recreation areas. Last week, several concerns were raised regarding open space recreation and whether new language would prevent horseback and ATV riding on private properties. The Council made assurances on Wednesday that it does not.
Council members also spent a significant amount of time considering several objection letters residents sent regarding the changes and how they affect specific properties. The Council will continue to accept objections through Monday, April 23, at 5 p.m. and will consider those comments at the next County Council meeting.
“What we are doing today is not the end of the story,” said Chris Robinson, County Council member.
Robinson said property owners will still be able to apply for rezones and will have other options available to them even after the new zoning districts are in place. The changes go into effect on June 1.
Officials have repeatedly said they were attempting to create several new zoning districts to increase allowable density in unincorporated areas to provide more flexibility for property owners.
“One thing I can say with confidence is that all of us have new tools and new processes that to date have not been available to do the right thing in the right locations,” Putt said. “The hard work begins now. Now we roll up our sleeves and begin to work together to build and rebuild the communities we care about. I’ll let the next generation be the judge if we did the right thing.”
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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