Letters, Nov. 24-26: Park City, Summit County should pause development discussions
Pause development talks
I would respectfully ask the county and city councils to put a hold for six months or a year on any decisions and talks regarding developments that require a zoning change.
First, we are coming upon the two-year anniversary of COVID affecting our country. It is far from over and everyone is still dealing with the effects — mandates, shutdowns, masks, school disruptions, work disruptions and the list goes on. Now we have rising prices, shortages of many items and who knows what is around the corner. People are stressed! Tempers are on short fuses! Everything seems to be controversial and people are acting out. The last thing we need is more controversy. None of the projects are “urgent” — except to the developer.
Second, I assume the parcels in question were zoned the way the are for a reason (the area Dakota Pacific wants to develop has already had one zoning change — perhaps that should be the limit). I find it ironic that a $50 million bond for open space was recently voted on and passed — yet here we are again trying to put a large development on any available piece of land! The two ideas seem to be at odds with each other.
Third, there seems to be an “elephant” in the room that no one wants to discuss — water. Park City is considered a “high desert” — water is an extremely valuable resource and the drought we are experiencing may become the new “norm.” You can not make more of it — you can’t go somewhere else to obtain it. Water rights attached to land parcels will be useless if there is no water.
Finally, the traffic is a major concern. UDOT is years away from dealing with these issues and even when they finally do, how long do you think road construction takes? Think of the mess Kimball Junction will be when they start tearing up off/on ramps, closing roads, etc. Would it not be better to take care of those issues first?
Officials must swallow pride and say ‘no’
While the County Council’s reasoning for leaning towards rubber stamping the development of 1,100 new residences at Kimball Junction has changed over time, one thing has remained constant: nobody besides the developer (and four out of five of the county councilors, it seems) sees any real benefits for the community in doing the developer this favor.
The reason is simple: None of the purported benefits of the project are real. They said, “This will help solve our workforce housing crisis,” but only 55 of the 1,100 housing units will be truly affordable for the average service industry workers in our town (and that is if those units are ever built). They said, “This project will help us secure funding for fixing the traffic problems on 224,” but there is no way to know (and even if it is true, it will take 7-10 years before UDOT starts building). They said, “This project will prevent development of other areas,” but this zoning decision has no impact on the zoning and development of other areas.
Luckily, the people of Park City and Summit County aren’t idiots, and while open to hearing factual arguments in favor of the project, they have heard none — and people are growing tired of their elected leaders creating bogus reasons for approving this project. Growing tired of their county councilors defending the indefensible. Growing tired of speculating why their representatives have been captured by special interest. Growing tired of their elected officials’ inability to swallow their pride and simply say NO.
But there is still hope. Over the last month, more than 3,300 Park City and Summit County voters have signed a petition (https://bit.ly/DakotaPacific) to make it clear to the County Council that the community strongly opposes this project. They expect to be heard — and if not, democracy luckily provides a good solution to unaccountable leadership.
Project offers only negatives for residents
We would like to add our voices to the “No” on Dakota Pacific project at Kimball Junction.
For our Summit County Council members (Glenn Wright, Chris Robinson, Roger Armstrong, Doug Clyde, Malena Stevens) this seems a simple decision. Developers want what they always want; the people of Summit County want to maintain our quality of life. It’s simply a question of who the council serves.
This development has only negatives for us, their constituents — more traffic, more density, more water consumption, more impact on our schools. If this were mostly affordable housing, there would be some benefit, but there is little. Until a firm (and acceptable) UDOT plan is budgeted for how to mitigate the existing traffic mess at Kimball Junction, it’s irresponsible to approve 1,100 units and perhaps 2,000 more vehicles.
Summit County is large and the council is approving housing elsewhere. If more development is inevitable, at least place it where there is sufficient freeway access and low impact on existing residents. They owe this to their constituents.
Andrew Krcik and Mary Lynne Hulme
Don’t give up on original concept
As a resident of Summit County since 1992, I am writing about the Dakota Pacific proposal for Kimball Junction. I have followed proposals to develop the land since the initial proposals to establish the research park with a goal of maintaining a lower population density at the junction. Some in the County Council have complained about the slow pace of development in the research park without realizing this is often typical for research parks. For example, the UU park, which is now a highly successful endeavor, had a slow start. After the park was established in 1968, not much happened.
It took several years for first companies (Evans and Sutherland, Terra Tech, and the Utah Biological Testing Lab) to locate in the park and almost 30 years before expansion really started to blossom. The UU park now houses 48 companies with about 14,000 employees! While long incubation periods for research parks are typical, the timeline for development can be shortened when “incubator space” is available for newly established companies, along with an aggressive marketing effort. Unfortunately, neither approach is evident at Kimball Junction. From what I see, the County Council hasn’t made much effort to attract and support development and is now anxious to repurpose the land for immediate development. How about an effort to make the original plan succeed rather than flush it for the Dakota Pacific proposal?
So now, the citizens of Summit County are faced with a proposal for an ultra dense development whose size is completely out of character with the junction. I can hardly imagine the level of congestion when residents from 1,000 new units are added to the present lines of cars that can stretch from the Kimball Junction traffic lights to Park City Nursery. The council should recommit to the original research park concept.
A deeper dive is needed
At the Nov. 17 work session on the proposed entitlement change to the Tech Center, the developer, Dakota Pacific, asserted that their proposed plan inherently qualifies for a new tax zone designation that will:
• Fund a new interchange at Kimball Junction that will reduce traffic congestion.
• Enable UDOT to prioritize construction of the new interchange.
The new tax zone they’re referring to is the Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zone Act or HTZR. Dakota Pacific claims that the HTZR is the only way Kimball Junction can solve its traffic problems and is the main reason why the council should approve their plan.
I am opposed to the project for a myriad of reasons. However, beyond my overall objections, I am concerned that Dakota Pacific has oversimplified the HTZR approval process and is perhaps putting forth misleading assertions.
1. The primary goal of the HTZR is to encourage low-cost housing development near UTA FrontRunner rail stations. Low-cost housing built near “certain” other transit centers may also qualify as an HTZR, but is not guaranteed. Obviously the bus transit center at the Tech Center is outside of the bill’s main intent and is not automatic.
2. The HTZR bill intends the benefits to be used to improve the HTZR itself, not the general community. Since the Kimball Junction interchange is not connected to the HTZR, it may not be considered a qualifying project. The HTRZ could potentially be granted, but not a new interchange. In this case, the tax benefits could possibly revert back to the developer.
3. The current draft agreement between the county and the developer does not appear to mandate the HTZR. If the council approves the project, the developer may proceed even if the HTZR is not forthcoming.
The council and the community must take a much deeper dive into the HTZR. If we find there are any discrepancies or misleading claims in Dakota Pacific’s very strong assertions, then we must deny their proposal immediately.
Community stepped up once again
Last Thursday and Friday, the Park City Board of Realtors held our 20th annual Park City Turkey Drive at The Market at Park City.
How does one properly say and give thanks for the generosity of the Park City community? Our goal was 2,700 turkeys and on Friday at 3 p.m., we were able to purchase an additional 300 turkeys; 1,000 birds were donated to the Christian Center of Park City for distribution to both Summit and Wasatch counties and the remaining birds were picked up by our partner food banks statewide.
This drive is made possible by colleagues and friends of the Park City Board of Realtors that always give so generously to support this event. You have again shown the depths of your compassion and without you, the overwhelming results and the number of people we are providing for this holiday season would not be possible. And to the Park City community, a giant heartfelt thank you for your continued supported the turkey drive this and every year. Together we are making a big difference by “giving hunger the bird,” and over 18,000 people will be thankful you helped provide them with a turkey dinner this Thanksgiving. We are not just providing a turkey and dinner fixings to families, we are giving these families a sense of hope that for a moment there is normalcy in their lives on Thanksgiving.
The turkeys for the annual drive are provided entirely by Mike Holm and Walt Penegar at The Market in Park City. Every penny collected goes to purchasing a turkey — we have absolutely no overhead so we rely completely on volunteer help. This year, we are grateful again to Realtors and friends from the Park City Board of Realtors that tirelessly gave of their time and incredible upbeat and high energy.
With the 20th anniversary comes a passing of the drumstick. This was my last year chairing this wonderful event and JanaLee Jacobsen, who has served on the committee for the past 15 years, is perfectly poised to take the lead. Please continue to support this amazing event and JanaLee too.
Park City Board of Realtors
Who will be responsible?
Dakota Pacific vs. Greater Park City: While this is not exactly someone trying to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s pretty close.
Here we have a company (Dakota Pacific) stuck with a piece of property that is a definite financial liability to them. Their solution is to find a way to unload it, make a tremendous amount of money and never look back. All they have to do is convince five people that there are no downsides to their proposal.
If they are successful in their efforts and get someone (Summit County) to buy the bridge, they will ultimately walk away with pockets bulging and a big smile on their face. If those five people are wrong and thousands of residents are correct — it’s too late. What are the penalties? To the developer — nothing. To the five council members — nothing. To the thousands of residents who sounded the alarm — EVERYTHING.
Someone must be held responsible should all go wrong — underpass denied, the need for a new school, increased energy costs, water, pollution, congestion, etc. Will it be the developer that created the problem? Will it be the County Council who approved it? Or will it be ALL taxpayers of Summit County who will bear the financial burden?
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