Summit County Council upholds East Side code changes despite protests
May 8, 2018
Eastern Summit County landowners responded to the recent adoption of the new zoning districts by sending nearly 20 letters to the county protesting the changes. The Summit County Council ultimately chose to uphold the revisions despite the concerns expressed by landowners.
The County Council last month agreed to approve the long-awaited amendments to the Eastern Summit County Development Code after nearly two years of consideration. The changes include critical revisions to the zoning districts and requirements. The revisions affect more than 13,000 property owners on the East Side.
Before the vote, County Councilors spent a significant amount of time considering objection letters describing how the revisions would affect specific properties. The County Council continued to accept similar protests through April 23. Nearly 20 additional letters were sent to the county.
The County Council last week reviewed each additional letter, as well as planning staff's analysis of the properties. Some of the properties were grandfathered with the same development potential they had prior to May 1996 and are unaffected by the new zoning districts.
Many of the letters continued highlighting the uncertainty landowners feel about how the new zoning districts affect their individual properties. In several cases, planning staff determined the zoning map changes do not affect potential development. Analysis of other properties showed that some would be losing or gaining density. "Assuming the parcels have grandfathered status or were otherwise lawfully created, then the base development density remains unaffected with one unit allowed per lot," a planning department analysis of a parcel close to Francis.
As County Council members have stated before, property owners will still be able to apply for rezones and will have other options available to them to increase development density even after the new zoning districts are in place.
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After nearly an hour of discussing the merits of each letter, Council member Roger Armstrong made a motion to uphold the County Council's original decision to approve the amendments to the zoning district map. The County Council had the option to adjust the decision if they found any of the letters raised a compelling argument.
"I move that we not reconsider our decision from two weeks ago and the changes to Chapter 3 and 4 remain in effect," he said.
Planning staff intended to send a letter of response to the landowners regarding the County Council's decision and the analysis of their concerns for their property.
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.
Several property owners criticized the County Council over the proposals and continued to insist they were deliberately taking away property rights in the days before the County Council made a decision. Even more property owners continued to express uncertainty over what the changes would mean for their individual properties.
Hundreds of East Side landowners consistently attended the hearings to try to understand the effects of the new zoning districts on their property, with many still unclear about the impacts even after the adoption of the ordinance last month. More than 30 work sessions and 22 public hearings were held about the issue at the Planning Commission level, with seven more hearings held before the County Council.
The changes to the zoning map are scheduled to go into effect on June 1.
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