Workforce housing called ‘out of place’ in village
December 2, 2011
On Tuesday, the Synderville Basin Planning Commission decided to postpone a final decision on a proposed expansion of The Village at Kimball Junction until developers addressed a number of issues. Nevertheless, they characterized the project as "well thought-out and an enhancement to Kimball Junction."
If approved for a Specially Planned Area (SPA) rezone, the Village at Kimball Junction would include an 11,000-square-foot expansion to the Smith’s Food and Drug, a gas station, affordable housing, a Del Taco on the corner of Ute Boulevard and State Road 224, and 50,000-square-feet of commercial space.
At the Planning Commission’s public hearing Tuesday night, the strongest opponents of the project were residents who own businesses in the Cottonwood buildings in Newpark, just northeast of where the 44-unit affordable-housing building’s proposed location.
Tom Bennett, a Newpark business owner, said he liked the creation of more activity in the area, but questioned whether the project meets the SPA criteria. He said he also was concerned about the effect the development would have on his business.
"The small segments of green do not seem to count as pocket parks to me," said Bennet. "On the land-plat, the lot where the affordable housing is going to be built was designated as a common area. Cottonwood businesses relied on that when selecting the property to locate their businesses. The workforce housing will decrease the value of the businesses surrounding it."
Another Cottonwood building business owner agreed, telling the commission that if workforce housing is located there, other companies’ interest in locating to the area would be diminished.
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The Planning Commission called the housing isolated and said that it appeared to be placed in the northeast corner of the development as a last resort. They told developer Bret Whalen to try to work on the architecture and layout of the building to make it feel more "neighborly."
Scott Loomis, executive director of Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, who worked with the developers on the workforce housing component, said that because this was an infill project and the workforce housing had to be on the site of the development, the location was the best option available.
Members of the Planning Commission also asked the developers to return with a better plan to deter residents from driving from one end of the Village to another, and to create more connectivity for pedestrians.
"People won’t walk in a jagged pattern as the sidewalks are set up," said Planning Commissioner Annette Velarde. "They will walk across the parking lot."
To help create better traffic flow in the area, the developers have proposed two new roundabouts on either side of the development, one on Newpark Boulevard and another on Ute Boulevard. Kent Wilkerson with the Summit County Engineering Department said the roundabouts would not solve the congestion problems in the area but would keep it from getting worse.
"Buildings and concrete are already there," said Wilkerson. "This is an infill project so we need to work with what we have and can’t create the perfect project."
Commissioners asked the developers to return with a new affordable-housing design, better connectivity, more focus on recreation and parks, and a Del Taco design that would screen it from S.R. 224. A new date for that meeting has not yet been scheduled.