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Summit County Council Looks Encouraging Sustainability Through Potential Development Code Updates

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Solar Panels in Park City
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The Summit County Council and Snyderville Planning Commission had a wide-ranging discussion about how to plan for the future, as they met in a joint session last week.

Among the topics, they looked at how the Development Code can encourage sustainability.

During the joint meeting, council member Roger Armstrong reminded the group that, despite the recent snowy weather, they’re still short on water. He cited the report from David Ure, the county’s representative on the Weber Basin Water District Board.

“We’ve talked about how many lawns do we need when we’re running out of water.” Armstrong said, “When David Ure was here a month ago, I asked him jokingly, ‘Are we out of water?’ And he said, ‘Yes, we are.’ Our reservoirs are at 50% right now. If we don’t have three straight years of average snowpack we’re going to be in trouble. That’s coming from Weber Basin Water, that’s from our major water source, not from our small ones. If we’re out there pouring tens of thousands of gallons of water on lawns in an arid mountain environment, I’m not sure that makes a lot of sense. The development code may be a place to address those landscaping, require zero-scaping, put some limitations on some of those things.”

On another item, Armstrong said he also hopes they can persuade homeowner associations not to be restrictive on solar installations—whether that’s in current neighborhoods or new development.

“I don’t know that we have in the basin a lot of room for major developments with new HOA’s; but restrictions against rooftops solar are probably something that we would not appreciate an HOA coming up with as a new policy as it got formed.” Armstrong continued, “I don’t think we’re going to interfere with people’s abilities to find ways to be more sustainable. We should probably be finding ways as a council to work with existing HOA’s that have restrictions to see if we can get some of those softened. I’m not sure how to do that.”

In response, Snyderville Planning Commissioner Canice Hart said that on some items, the Code doesn’t give them much teeth.

“All these projects that come before us, we ask the questions all the time, what are you doing?” Hart explained, “We can encourage, we can push, but things like water just as an example, the way that process works. They have a letter that the provider is willing to serve. That topic is killed for us at that point. Once they have a willing to serve letter there isn’t much for us to do there. I say this in that we want to be aligned with exactly what you’re saying, but there are some things that were just totally taken off the table for us.”

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