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Guest Editorial

Bruce Taylor, Mike Washington and Kathy KinsmanSnyderville Basin Planning Commissioners

GET REAL?!? The article and the editorial in the Saturday, Sept. 30, edition of The Park Record regarding the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission’s discussion on Newpark’s presentation was not only misleading, but also wrong. WE DID NOT DENY AFFORDABLE HOUSING. However, we did take great exception to the retail proposal and the overall massiveness of the entire project.

Yes, the SBPC expressed concerns with the location of the affordable housing element, but that’s all they were — concerns. Newpark was on the agenda for a work session, not a decision, and that is what the commission is supposed to do at a work session, review a proposal and make comments. The applicant then has the discretion to ignore the comments or to rework their proposal before a public hearing.

In the past couple of years, Newpark has come to the commission with numerous amendments, as well as what they call "refinements," to their SPA Plan. Newpark repeatedly comes to these presentations with short-time deadlines, which they set up for themselves, and then if they don’t get a rubber stamp from the SBPC, they claim the commission is treating them unfairly.

Newpark originally said they would be bringing the affordable housing component to the SBPC in the spring; but in the spring, they informed us that they wanted to apply for tax credits and the tax credit application cycle started in October. Newpark waited until the last SBPC meeting in September to bring their affordable housing proposal to the commission then insisted the commission give their proposal a green light because their tax credit application was due in two days.

To imply that because of our comments Newpark may not go forward with affordable housing is simply wrong. Newpark is required to build affordable housing; they don’t get to take their ball and go home now because they don’t like the rules. They do have to make an effort to work with the staff and the SBPC to get a project that meets the intent of their development agreement.

What we saw Tuesday night is not what the SBPC envisioned when they approved the Newpark development. According to the SPA plan approved by the SBPC in 2001, the project was supposed to be mixed-use, with residential upstairs from retail, creating a city living environment. We encourage the public, and The Park Record, to review the Newpark SPA plan and the currently proposed massing of the density on the property and see if the two are consistent or even compatible. The project has morphed into big boxes, residential units on top of a massive above-ground parking garage, with the affordable housing stuck at the outskirts adjacent to the highway. Is that what this community envisioned? Is that what the community now wants?

The members of the SPBC all agree that affordable housing is necessary, and we accept the representation that the size and price point indicated will meet some of the demand in the county. But we can’t let Newpark or any other developer threaten to renege on their obligation to build affordable housing if they don’t get what they want for the rest of their project. On behalf of the community, the SBPC needs to remain adamant that Newpark is not only required to build affordable housing, but that the affordable housing and the rest of the project must meet the intent of the agreement that they entered into with the county. That’s getting real!


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