Letters, March 3-5: In examining proposed housing development, county must defend the zone
County must play zone defense
Despite what the developer’s PR push has said, the Highland Flats proposal controversy is not about affordable housing. It IS about zoning. The land is currently zoned rural residential, and the density requirements allow the developers to build three units/homes. They were aware of this zoning when they purchased it. They now want the zoning changed to allow them to build 410 units! There are currently 264 homes/lots in the Highland Estates neighborhood with a minimum size of 2/3 of an acre. The developer wants to add 410 (almost double) to what is currently there on less than 40 acres! A lot of thought, time and energy went into zoning all across the county, determining what each community should look like, and how the land should be used. They considered things like sustainability, safety, growth, traffic, available utilities, etc. If every developer that says “affordable housing” is allowed to re-zone any area they want, what is the point of zoning at all?
In addition, these are all rental units. No single-family homes, all one-, two- and three-bedroom condos. The developer will be collecting rent on every single one of the 410 units, year after year after year. While a few of these units will be somewhat “affordable” to rent, the rest will actually cost more than what is currently available! A one-bedroom unit will be going for $2,400 per month! They are not providing an opportunity for anyone to purchase an affordable home!
The Planning Commission and the County Council need to know this is not acceptable!
Thanks to patrollers and responders
A big thank you goes to the Deer Valley ski patrol and two EMS persons from the Park City Fire District who came to my rescue on Friday, Feb. 19. I became trapped in deep powder in the trees without having told my companions where I was going. I got upended and could not get back up from the fall and could not be seen from the ski run. I kept trying to get out and became exhausted and developed chest pains. My bindings did not release and I was unable to reach my cellphone, though my son and grandson were calling and searching for me. That is when the chest pain hit really hard.
Eventually my grandson found me and we went down to the lift and the ski patrol was called along with an ambulance. About five patrollers and a mountain host showed up and then came the ambulance. I was provided excellent care and taken to the University of Utah hospital. As a result of their prompt and thorough care, my cardiac problem was only temporary.
Stay out of the trees unless you have companion!
A noble goal poorly sought
I have been following the ongoing situation regarding the Highland Estates neighborhood and the plan for affordable housing. While affordable housing is definitely needed and a noble goal, as with most things the city/county leaders do, it seems to be an idea that they have grabbed onto without long-term planning. How many units in total are needed and how many actually make sense? Why were areas not designated as affordable housing areas? It appears that any time a developer seeks approval for a project if they throw in some affordable housing they get approval. Damn the zoning laws, the grand “Master Plan,” what existing residents want. Makes you wonder what is going on behind closed doors! Why have rules and regulations if you can always amend them, grant variances, etc? I saw a notice of meeting in The Park Record where a committee was meeting to amend a prior amendment that had come about because of a variance. Seriously?
What about the movie studio? Can that not be retrofitted in some way to provide housing? Perhaps housing for seasonal employees? Affordable housing? Why not make good use of an existing structure?
Why aren’t the adjoining counties helping with this issue? Look at the development around the Jordanelle Reservoir. Not one affordable housing unit! I realize this area is in Wasatch County but don’t county officials talk to one another? Isn’t there a long-term plan for the entire area? Bigger is not always better. More is not always better.
Finally, does anyone take into consideration the water and traffic issues? I know of no law where you have to live where you work — if that were the case people all across the country would not have one-hour-plus commutes (each way).
Affordable housing is a noble goal, yes, but without thorough planning and thought, it’s an absolute disaster!
It’s a relief that Park City’s new planning director, Gretchen Milliken, recognizes that congestion is an “issue” in Park City. Let’s hope she can also recognize that the proposed PCMR parking lot development, the arts district project, the mess at Kimball Junction and never-ending work at Canyons Village all contribute to that congestion “issue.” Let’s also hope that she doesn’t see more roads to move around ever more people as being even close to a solution. Luckily we still have some folks around who know enough to stop digging when they find they’re stuck in a hole. Good luck, Gretchen.
Take plan off the table
I am a 28-year resident of Highland Estates and a 34-year resident of Park City. Last week’s public input session to the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission showed overwhelming opposition to the proposed Highland Flats development in our neighborhood. Something that needs to be made clear: The project applicants have gone to the media with a message that their proposed development is all about affordable housing. It is not. The problem with their proposal is that in order to squeeze in the 410 housing units they want on this small piece of property, they would need to change not only the county’s general plan (long and hard worked on by local residents and county staff in 2015) but also our entire neighborhood’s zoning, from rural residential to commercial.
If the residential zoning we’ve all counted on as we’ve built our lives in this neighborhood got changed, it would alter the nature of our neighborhood forever, opening the door to other commercial endeavors. Offering a small portion of this development as affordable housing as a carrot to the county to make huge changes in our zoning infrastructure so that the developer can personally profit is not right. The benefits of a few affordable housing units do not outweigh the precedent that would be set by changing zoning for an entire neighborhood.
We all agree that our county needs more affordable housing. That is not the issue. The issue is that property is simply not zoned to accommodate a development like this. The development applicants knew the land was zoned rural residential when they bought it, and they should not be allowed to try and change the zoning at the expense of 260 other households, for their own profit. Let them build the two or three houses they are allowed on their property within the zoning allowances and good luck to them! I have faith that our planning commissioners will take this proposed general plan and zoning change off the table. Thank you.
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Diane Thompson writes that City Hall should not be involved in financing or building an arts and culture district. Instead, it should sell the land to a developer to pursue the project.