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Snyderville Planning Commission Votes Down Dakota Pacific Proposal

Summit County

Tuesday night, the Snyderville Planning Commission voted 5-2 to advance a negative recommendation for the Dakota Pacific project at Kimball Junction, following several months of discussion with the developers and four public hearings this summer.


The negative recommendation, which now goes on to the County Council, was supported by Snyderville Commissioners Thomas Cooke, Ryan Dickey, Joel Fine, Canice Harte and John Kucera. Krystal Simons and Malena Stevens opposed the decision.


Right before that, Simons made a motion for a positive recommendation, supported by Stevens. That was defeated by the votes of their five colleagues.


Last year, Dakota Pacific put forward a plan to amend the development agreement that was approved in 2008 for the Boyer Company’s Tech Park. Dakota proposes replacing that with a mixed-use neighborhood of nearly 1.3 million square feet, including 1,100 residences, commercial and office uses, and a hotel.


Snyderville Commissioner John Kucera put forward the motion for a negative vote. Among his comments, he said affordable-housing needs are important, but he was concerned about how the project handles it.


“So first, when a project creates more jobs than affordable units, we haven’t really solved the problem,” he said. “There are more people in need, and there’s still a shortage of affordable housing. So to me, it shouldn’t be a justification to move forward if there is no net benefit. Second, the concept of “live here, work here” is critical. But at 80 percent AMI, that’s around $95,000 a year of income. Service workers, teachers, firefighters, police aren’t making the cut—or are unlikely to make the cut, which means that people who live here and have to work elsewhere—and again the needs of the community aren’t being met. Third, we have a lot of affordable workforce housing projects underway with many product types. And I think we really need to learn from them. And I think we need to ensure that we’re making a positive impact before we add one-and-half times the population of Coalville to Kimball Junction and assume we’re solvng problems. Because we’ve learned a lot already.”


Concerning traffic, Kucera said the proposal is adding to problems at Kimball Junction that they already have.


“You know the traffic study shows a material impact on an already sizable traffic problem,” he said. “The impact on traffic is worse than failing. And it doesn’t appear that it can be mitigated. Bus Rapid Transit hopeful by 2025, but it’s not guaranteed. There’s no question that our traffic problem gets worse, faster, if the project moves forward as is. And I don’’t believe we’re gonna solve the traffic problem by making it worse, first. I think more work needs to be done on traffic. I think project size and transit solutions need to be further considered.”


Kucera also didn’t agree that they should approve the project because growth is inevitable. He said that, in fact, they see growth pressure because of their efforts to preserve the mountain town atmosphere of Park City, and to resist urbanization.


On the other hand, Krystal Simons said what’s important for her is the future of Kimball Junction, and whether it will welcome new generations of residents. She said it’s also important to provide housing for seniors, and to have a range and variety of housing, which certainly includes affordable housing.


“The question that this Commission needs to consider tonight is not, in my opinion, how much and what specific mix of affordable housing is being offered, or how many rooms are in the hotel, or do we have a perfect apples-to-apples comparison of the Tech Park as entitled, versus Dakota Pacific’s third concept design,” she said. “I think it’s not even about, for me tonight, whether traffic will get worse. Frankly, as I interpreted the data from the traffic study, it is inevitable that traffic is gonna get worse. And the already-existing background traffic in our community that is exacerbating our traffic woes in the Junction, that’s already happening today.”


She wanted to send this question onto the County Council, in search of a smart-growth development.


“How could strategic phasing and additional uses be executed and conditioned over time to bring something to this site that gives it a soul,” Simons said. “It does not have a soul right now, and it hasn’t for 12 years. And waiting another 12 years for the possibility that the Tech Park might happen—I think that’s taking a big risk and missing an opportunity for us as a community to re-vision what this location could offer us, and offer those who will be here in 12 years.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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