Guest editorial: Answers and more outreach needed before county approved Kimball Junction plan
The Summit County Council and staff are hearing from neighborhood residents that we want to help shape how Kimball Junction grows. I’ve had helpful exchanges with Council Chair Roger Armstrong, who served on the committee that created the Kimball Junction master plan. He understands that residents weren’t well represented on the committee and that there were NO neighborhood engagement activities during the two-year committee process. Council members are encouraging participation in the open house on May 22 from 8 a.m.–noon and the Council hearing on May 29 at 5:30 p.m. — when a vote may occur. Both meetings are at the Sheldon Richins Building.
There is MUCH to like about the draft plan. There is a MAJOR missing link — no projected growth numbers. How many more residential units will there be on the east side of S.R. 224? How many new units on the west side? It is common for general plans for neighborhoods to have growth projections — Park City plans do this. Many of my neighbors don’t know what is envisioned.
On the west side, residential units were not part of development agreements. I think mixed-used residential units are a good idea, but numbers are needed. On the east side, one Council member shared that he sees the neighborhood as mostly built out — perhaps 150 more higher-density units. I’ve not heard any numbers from other Council members. When asking staff if the plan envisions 150, 1,500, 10,000, 50,000, or MORE units, I learn that it’s the Council’s decision. The Council should engage members of the neighborhood, among others.
When Leslie Thatcher of KPCW recently interviewed a planning commissioner, she probed the height question — just how tall will this new zone allow? The response was that buildings will be taller and areas more dense. This question warrants further probing. Will heights be three stories, five, 10, MORE?
Neighborhood residents should be a key constituency for the county to engage when undergoing any neighborhood planning process. It should have happened more for Kimball Junction. I love living in Kimball Junction and support a well-designed, mixed-use community. The current plan calls Kimball Junction a Town Center; however the current plan could allow a Salt Lake Valley City Center. I don’t welcome this.
The east side of Kimball Junction is land locked between a preserve, an interstate and a highway. County planning staff say that new unit owners will likely have cars. We appreciate good transit, bike lanes and pedestrian areas and we use them. However we also drive cars, as do the many people who enter our neighborhood to shop, dine, work and play — especially during winter months, when biking and walking on icy streets limit travel options.
I encourage members of the media to probe further and promote an even better plan. Help get answers to questions.
How a neighborhood grows should be a transparent process. If a plan spelled out how a community will grow, then the development process would have fewer surprises. Too often there is little information exchanged until a public hearing. It invites opposition to our whole county team — people who care about building strong communities. We need a clearer vision and growth projections — before finalizing a plan. Let’s work together to build stronger neighborhoods that have more active, welcomed engagement with our county representatives.
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