You may have heard of the 1200 units being developed close to Home Depot as part of Silver Creek Village. Well, there is more coming. A developer is now proposing a mix of houses and commercial businesses on the south side of Home Depot too. The developer wants to add a new development zone to our development code so they can build a mix of houses, affordable housing, a grocery store, and other commercial entities on roughly 46 acres of the 460 acre land (the rest would become open space). The rub is that the land is currently zoned for 1 house per 20 acres and nothing commercial.
This is an interesting development because it highlights the choices we as a community have to make as growth occurs and land owners want to maximize their opportunities. With that in mind, here are four choices along the spectrum of options that we as a community could make. Do any of these sound good?
- The Bet: We could tell the land owner that the property is going to stay zoned as is (for homes). The land owner would likely say fine, “then I’ll build 20 mansions on the property,” which the owner can do with their existing development rights. The counter argument to the land owner might be, “well if you were going to do that, then you would have done that already.” The question is whether the owner would go ahead an build only homes or whether they would leave it as psuedo-open space and hope for a better outcome later. If you thought they may wait, and you don’t want the development, this might be a good strategy.
- The Bargain: We could bargain with the owner and say that the County would prefer that this land stay open space. We’d need to give him something in return that would be as equal or more in value. Perhaps, that would be a rezone of another part of the Basin. An example would be the hill at the entrance to Jeremy Ranch or the Bitner property by the Bells gas station. In effect we are trying to prevent sprawl by choosing choice locations for development. This is what the Planning Department was looking at last year and would require some sort of ability (in our code) to transfer development rights. The downside of this, to many people, is that it impacts the existing neighborhood they live in. Would you save the Highway 40 corridor by giving a little bit of your neighborhood?
- The Concession: We could let the owner do what they want and create a new zone to support their development. This would gain the citizens of Basin about 400 acres of open space along Highway 40. The downside is that it would create sprawl in one of the hot button areas in the Basin (the Highway 40 corridor). The proposed plans include the ability to have everything from a funeral home to a hotel on the property.
- The All In: We could make the area a Town Center (like Kimball Junction). We could work with the developer to make what we envision is the “perfect” area — a self contained development with restaurants, groceries, homes, and businesses all focused around public transportation. Summit County owns the parcel of land next door (the triangle parcel), so we could build whatever transportation hub is necessary. This idea, of course, essentially cedes the Highway 40 to become the new Sandy. But perhaps better here than in your neighborhood.
There are countless other possible plans. Yet, hopefully the four above highlight the challenges. Something is going to happen on that land (and the rest of the Highway 40 corridor). Do you want to try and slow things down and hope that something happens? Are you willing to sacrifice your neighborhood for Highway 40? Should we go all in and try our hand at real master planning?
I’m not sure yet. Tonight the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission is meeting to discuss this very item. It should be interesting to get their initial impressions on the issue.
Area in Green is the proposed development