Part 3: So you don’t like the updated general plan? What are you going to do about it?
In Part 1 and Part 2 of a series of posts about how to voice your opinion over the updated General Plan, we talked about needing to formulate a plan of your own and some advice on how to be most effective when providing your opinion to the Planning Commission and County Council. In this final part, we’ll provide an example of how we are personally getting prepared for next Tuesday’s meeting with the Planning Commission regarding the General Plan.
As part of the proposed General Plan, there are areas that may become “receiving areas” for density. This means that in order to prevent development from happening in some places, they will try to incent developers to move development to other places designated for density (i.e. receiving areas). So, say that a developer has the right to put condos on a piece of land next to the Swaner Nature Preserve. Summit County may decide that they would prefer as much contiguous, open-space as possible in that area. So, they will try to convince the owner to “trade” the right to put their condos near the Swaner for the right to build in a “receiving area.” This is then repeated with various land owners across the Basin. If everything works out, the county has preserved “optimal” land so that nothing is developed there and pushed that development to planned-density areas. That sounds pretty good and it can work out that way.
Examples of these proposed receiving areas include:
- land around the Boyer Tech Park
- the area around the concrete plant near Quinn’s Junction
- the land around the Bell’s gas station at Silver Creek
- the area between Jeremy Ranch Elementary School and Burt Brothers
- the base of Canyons, the area by Fresh Market in Pinebrook
- the land by Home Depot
- the land west of Jeremy Ranch Elementary School including the Jeremy Store and the hill across the street (that many people think are open space)
Our concern is the last item on that list. Granted, we live in Jeremy Ranch, so our position is more biased than most when it comes to this area. However, living in the area also gives us knowledge that our county’s planners may not have. You may live in Silver Creek and think that building up the area around Bell’s is a bad idea. You may live in Silver Springs and wonder how you’ll ever leave your house if the Home Depot area becomes a receiving area (on top of the 1000+ housing units that are coming). You may hate driving into Kimball Junction today and wonder what doubling that density means. It’s your job to come up with the arguments that sway the decisions makers.
With that in mind, here are our arguments (some better than others of course) for why Jeremy Ranch should not be a receiving area:
- Right now, any open land is zoned for minimal office space and a few feet of retail. A receiving area that contains commercial would substantially change the character of Jeremy Ranch. Jeremy Ranch is a neighborhood of mostly homes, a golf course, and a gas station mostly serving residents. Having increased density and commercial offerings would completely change the character of the neighborhood.
- We understand the desire to enable each neighborhood to be self sufficient with a grocery, restaurants, and coffee shops so that traffic is reduced. Yet, Jeremy Ranch residents already have that across the street in Quarry Village in Pinebrook and will likely have that down Rasmussen Road. If preventing people driving out of a neighborhood for groceries is a concern, then there needs to be a receiving area near Old Ranch Road to service those people with groceries (they have farther to drive than we do currently). Why isn’t that in the plan?
- Adding additional housing units to Jeremy Ranch impacts the number of students at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School. Currently, some students in the area have to go to other elementary schools. By adding additional housing to this area, it will displace additional students and force them to go to other schools around the Basin. This will contribute to increased traffic as parents drive kids from Jeremy Ranch to McPolin.
- By increasing density, traffic will increase in close proximity to an elementary school. The amount of traffic around school start/end is already large. Adding to this will likely cause an extremely dangerous situation for any children who want to walk or ride their bikes to school.
- This area is currently a large wildlife corridor. Elk and moose move from the Jeremy Ranch Golf Course into the open space around the Jeremy Store. This wildlife will be displaced, possibly onto the roads, thus endangering both animals and humans.
- The roads currently don’t support increased density. We know that a large roundabout will be built at the entrance/exit to I-80; however, the ancillary roads such as Rasmussen and Homestead/Sackett won’t support the additional traffic. Traffic would be a nightmare if additional housing units and businesses are added and in many places there is not room to add an additional two lanes to try and alleviate that nightmare.
- In order to support additional traffic along Homestead Road, they will likely need to remove the bike lanes that people have become accustomed to. This makes it more dangerous for children, especially with all the heavy construction equipment going up Homestead/Sacket Drive.
- There is effectively one way out of Jeremy Ranch should a forest fire happen. What happens when an additional housing units and businesses are added and those people would need to exit the subdivision in the case of natural disaster?
- This area is in Service Area 6. We are taxed extra for both repairs to our roads and snow removal. A plan like this will require more roads, thus more repairs, and more snow removal. We don’t want to pay one more penny in taxes today, tomorrow, or ten years than we do today (due to this). If you do go forward with this plan, we want a guarantee that our taxes won’t be raised due to this receiving area. Unfortunately, we know you can’t do that.
- Speaking of Service Area 6, doesn’t this make “service areas” somewhat moot? We bought in an area where we had a known quantity of roads. As the General Plan states, “The Jeremy Ranch neighborhood contains subdivisions that are largely built-out. ” Isn’t there a certain expectation that comes with that (i.e., we have a certain amount of roads to pay to be maintained and that wouldn’t change)? So, if someone wanted to transfer density from an area outside of Service Area 6 to Jeremy Ranch, do we have to automatically accept that? Do we pay more for something where there is absolutely no benefit to us?
- This will likely lead to a drastic change in the feel of the area. As we know, planning guides conversations, but the details often end up being very different from what might have been initially conceived. If current plans come to fruition, there will likely be commercial space, separated by the elementary school from the Jeremy Golf Course to Burt Brothers to the nursery. Most of us living here didn’t sign up for living in a Draper-esque community, being lined by commercial shops.
- Receiving areas should generally be centrally located in an area. For instance, a receiving area by a central transit hub like Boyer Tech Park makes sense. People either drive a short distance to the businesses in the receiving area or live in the receiving area and are located in close proximity to business they may use and/or public transit options. If you build a receiving area in Jeremy Ranch, which would be on the far edge of the Basin, people are either going to drive from far away to get to any businesses in Jeremy Ranch or are going to drive from the receiving area (Jeremy Ranch) a longer distance to get to where other businesses are. People who live in the receiving area are also less likely to take Public transit because it will take too long to get anywhere since we are on the outskirts of the area (i.e. via bus it currently takes 45 minutes plus waiting time to get from Jeremy Ranch to PCMR or 14 minutes via car). You can pack more people in here but it just puts more cars on the road.
We’re sure we are missing a few other factors and will add them if possible. However, hopefully that provides some insight to the reasons we hope Jeremy Ranch does not become a receiving area. Even if you don’t live in Jeremy Ranch perhaps the list provides some factors that may influence whether you want something like this in your neck of the woods.
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