Letters, Nov. 27-Nov. 30: Summit County has no obligation to approve Kimball Junction development
No obligation to approve project
I am responding to Jeff Smith’s recent letter supporting replacement of the current development agreement for the Tech Center at Kimball Junction. Jeff seems to think that our county government needs to honor “promises” made to the new owner of the Tech Center property. Jeff currently resides in Heber so I am unsure why he is continuing to support a very impactful project in our community.
I served with Jeff on the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission when the Tech Center development agreement was negotiated and approved by the Boyer Company, the real estate development arm of the LDS Church, Park City Municipal and Summit County. All of the participants were happy with the agreement at the time. The only remaining obligation of the county is to process development requests “under the terms of the agreement.”
The Tech Center has seen limited activity in the years since, which is apparently not unusual with this type of property. Dakota Pacific purchased the property from Boyer about two years ago and immediately began negotiating to replace the existing agreement with “a new deal.”
The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission rejected the proposed development with a 5-2 vote. Dakota Pacific then approached the Summit County Council to negotiate a new agreement, which would allow a very dense residential (1,100 unit), commercial and hotel development. The proposal would result in 20% more square footage at build out than the existing agreement.
At this time the County Council has not defined any community benefit other than 300 affordable/attainable residential units (which will revert to market rate after 60 years) and “potential political” help in moving a re-do of the Kimball Junction interchange to a higher spot on the Utah Department of Transportation’s list of future projects.
Silver Creek Village, another recent, large-scale residential development, provided affordable housing, community playing fields, trails and a school site as part of their community benefits.
This project will have a significant negative impact on traffic at Kimball Junction both during construction and as it is built out. And I cannot imagine the disruption caused by the future rebuild of S.R. 224 at the Junction. Maybe one lane each way for three years?
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All options on the table
I think Ms. Orr’s column was very, very well written. She suggests redesigning Park City as if we had a fresh new canvas … what a novel and wonderful idea!
Perhaps Park City should hire a world-class land planning firm to offer professional guidance to help us move forward into the next phase of Park City with a real plan!
Maybe Park City can find better uses for the $100-plus million it was in the process of mis-spending on the ill-conceived arts a cultural district. How about taking that site and creating a large affordable housing development with a 10,000-square-foot artist colony to properly scale the art component to a town of 10,000 residents.
This concept could satisfy what artists and locals have been seeking.
The affordable housing would provide walkable and transit access living spaces for many downtown workers who now have to drive/commute from other cities or worse … work elsewhere. How about a new slogan: “Work PC/Live in PC!”
I think the movie studio should be rezoned to create 1,000 affordable housing units and other uses.
I think it is time to create new visions in an open, freely expressive atmosphere and explore all options!
Let’s start with “Work PC/Live in PC!”
Let’s hear from our leaders
The Dakota Pacific project at Kimball Junction is attracting a lot of attention. Unlike other topics such as BLM, equity and inclusion, this particular topic has very concrete and near-term impacts on those who live, work, shop and play in this area. It would be most useful to know where some of our key political and business leaders stand. Specifically, our current Park City mayor, our mayor-elect, the Park City Chamber/Bureau and the Historic Park City Alliance should all take public positions on the project.This is our community, so let’s hear from our community leaders!
County is taking the wrong tack
I listened in on the Nov. 17 Dakota Pacific County Council work session where the council discussed the proposed Tech Center development agreement amendment. I’d like to start by clearly stating that I’m against the current plan, which massively increases the number of residential units allowed in the county in arguably the most congested location in the county.
First, I think the plan as is will create an even bigger deficit of affordable housing. This is because the majority of market-rate housing residents will want more services — more school teachers, more restaurant staff, more house keepers, etc., and the additional workers will far outstrip the small number of affordable housing units. Perhaps a better approach would be to put the onus on the developer for determining the mixture.
Second, regarding traffic for housing versus traffic for an office development, council member Malena Stevens mentioned that office traffic would coincide with ski traffic and therefore have a much worse impact than housing-related traffic. As one who worked in the San Francisco Bay area for about 10 years in the high-tech business, I can say this assumption is quite inaccurate. I, and most everyone I knew working in the high-tech field, would adjust our commute times to lessen being stuck in traffic. I’d typically work 7 a.m.-3 p.m. while others would choose a later schedule of 11 a.m.-7 p.m., thus missing the peak traffic load.
Finally, regarding existing traffic at S.R. 224/I-80, why isn’t the council proposing and supporting cost-effective partial measures which can be done right now? Why only look at the pie-in-the-sky plan (or pie-in-the-tunnel plan?). For example, add exit “b” onto Highland Drive from eastbound I-80 to allow one to bypass S.R. 224 and go directly to Newpark/Smith’s/Basin Rec/Trailside/etc. During busy times, there are always a large number of cars in the left turn lanes from southbound S.R. 224 to go to Newpark. As such, this inexpensive and easy-to-construct option would make a measurable dent towards reducing the current congestion.
Take advantage of an opportunity
After review, I am writing to oppose Dakota Pacific Real Estate’s amendment request for a change of use with increased density at the Tech Center site. There are too many issues including increased density, traffic, water, transit financing, affordable housing and others that I request the council to vote “No.”
I ask you to pause to consider the significant opportunities now available due to the new infrastructure law. Utah will have available $3 billion to spend on highway and road construction and repairs over the next five-year period.
I believe it’s in Dakota Pacific’s best interest to withdraw the density amendment request for the same reason.
The council will make progress in response to the many issues raised by the community uproar.
They should then pause negotiations for a period of three to six months to reconsider alternatives. The project should closely adhere to the Kimball Junction Master Plan. There must be joint meetings with the Park City Council, UDOT, Dakota Pacific and others to initially agree and document a plan of the items that must be resolved and who will be responsible to report to the County Council by specific dates.
Let’s not turn down this new opportunity presented by the infrastructure law and spend a lot of time and money disagreeing with each other as we are best able solve big problems with communication and taking responsibility.
Jim Yancey Pigg
Another ski season is approaching. And with it, the weekday convergence of school and industry traffic that routinely turns Kearns Boulevard into a parking lot each morning and each afternoon.
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