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Taylor will keep eye on The Canyons

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Retiring Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioner Bruce Taylor expects to closely eye development at The Canyons as the resort’s parent, American Skiing Company, liquidates assets to jumpstart improvements at the resort.

For years the construction of an 18-hole golf course at The Canyons has stalled as landowners bickered about its development.

"The Canyons is certainly there on my windshield," said Taylor in a telephone interview Monday. "I’ve been able to be on that since day one."

Shortly after joining the Planning Commission in the late 1990s, Taylor heard a pitch from American Skiing brass about their vision for a four-season mountain village at The Canyons.

"There is a lot more development at The Canyons that is going to come forward," Taylor said. "It’ll be interesting to see will we have the vitality?"

Having served nine years on the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission this week Taylor reflected on the nearly 2,000 units that are already approved for construction in western Summit County that haven’t yet been built.

"That’s just a little bit under half of what is there now Over the nine years, we had to deal with a lot of vested applications that had been submitted prior to the General Plan we have today," Taylor said. "The Snyderville Basin could almost double just from what is already approved."

But controlling traffic the new growth generates will be difficult, he said.

"The (Snyderville Basin) General Plan has been trying to maintain what the community has asked for," Taylor said. "They want trails, they want open space, they want connectivity between developments so that you can walk or hike or skateboard or ride your bike without necessarily having to get in your car all the time."

Enacted almost a decade ago the General Plan has resulted in the clustering of development in the Snyderville Basin while maintaining hillsides as open space, explained Taylor.

"Without the density that we’re seeing at Kimball Junction, there would be houses on the hills that surround that area," he said. "Let’s make Kimball Junction unique so people would want to get off the Interstate there and explore."

Meanwhile, he challenges future planning commissioners in Snyderville to embrace the general plan.

"I never looked at it as a hot seat," Taylor said about his three terms of the board. "There is probably the perception that we’re acting kind of slick-shot and without direction and just acting on a piecemeal basis (but) that’s far from the truth."

The Basin Planning Commission helps elected officials in Summit County make development-related decisions.

"Every time something gets approved that the public doesn’t like, we get raked over the coals. I would like to see more community involvement," Taylor said. "I hate to see the prevalence of the notion that ‘I’ve got mine and let’s shut the door behind us.’"

However, decisions like whether more big-box stores should move into Snyderville must be taken seriously, he warned, adding that the Basin General Plan caps the size for retailers at about 40,000 square feet.

"No single facility can be bigger than that," Taylor said explaining that many big boxes range in size from 90,000 and 120,000 square feet. "We’re saying that we’ve built out what we want in the community for big box. We’re certainly not going to go chase after the Costcos and the Targets of the world. Hopefully, that’s not the direction that Park City and the Snyderville Basin would choose to take."

Not so affordable housing

With western Summit County in the throes of a housing crisis, increasing the number of affordable units while maintaining the area’s exclusive mountain lifestyle has proven daunting, lamented Taylor.

"We’re all going to be pushed farther and farther out of town because we can’t afford to stay here anymore," he said. "It’s a huge problem."

Builders in the future may be forced to provide affordable units as part of their project approvals, Taylor added.

"I see in the future maybe a tougher line with developers," he said, adding, "they’re going to come to the table with some affordable/attainable solutions."

‘Anywhere, USA’

Most of his decisions as a planning commissioner are marked by his attempts to prevent the Basin from becoming a so-called ‘Generica,’ joked Taylor.

"Do we really want Kimball Junction to turn into a strip mall of sorts with corporate, national signs lining the road?" he asked. "The national corporations gripe, but on the other hand, look at what we’ve got, in my opinion we’ve got the fabric of a community."

As an architect on the Planning Commission, Taylor, a Park Meadows resident who moved to Summit County in 1987 claims he challenged designers to improve their drawings while avoiding most conflicts of interests by not working too closely with clients locally.

"I’ve been able to keep my nose fairly clean and be able to offer objective advice," he said. "When I push for designers to take a different look at something, it’s never intentionally been for me to leave my mark on a building."


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