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Behind the Syderville Planning Commission's Rejection of the Dakota Pacific Proposal

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Summit County

The Snyderville Planning Commission’s negative recommendation on the Dakota Pacific proposal for Kimball Junction will be going to the Summit County Council in the near future.


We talked to Snyderville Chairman Ryan Dickey about the Planning Commission’s thinking on items like traffic and affordable housing, and how it led to their vote. 


As we have reported, the vote from the Snyderville Commission was 5 to 2 against Dakota Pacific, which is proposing to amend the Boyer Research Park approved in 2008 and change it to a mixed-use neighborhood plan of residences, commercial and a hotel.


Chairman Dickey said the decision is about what he expected, though he couldn’t predict exactly how the votes would fall.


The project offers affordable housing. But Dickey said one concern they had was so-called “cannibalization”—the idea that whatever employee housing they supplied would be used up by the additional workers that Dakota Pacific generates.


“The applicants’ own economic impact analysis showed that it would create direct and indirect jobs of about 1500, and deliver only 306 units. Sort of on face, I think it’s gonna create more demand for affordable housing over time, and because most of those jobs are targeted between hospitality and service, the folks who largely are looking for affordable housing.”


They were also concerned if the units the project delivers would serve the income level that needs housing.


“And then the second piece was just an inability to guarantee that housing would be available for folks making less than 80 percent of the Area Median Income, which is something on the order of $94,000”


Dickey said it’s not certain that those AMI levels are sufficient to help out the teachers and First Responders that are the backbone of the community.


“That $94,000 is a household income number. So if you have a teacher and firefighter that live together, if they progress sufficiently in their careers, they may be able to reach that and qualify. But that number is well above the salaries that have been thrown out for teachers, cops, firefighters.”


Concerning predicted traffic impacts, Dickey said they had concerns about the methodology used by the applicants.


“Principally the fact that it looks at impact on traffic on average days. Well, we don’t have a lot of average days in the Basin. What we have is two distinct peaks that last for months—winter and summer. And what you really want to analyze is the impact of traffic on the peaks, during the peak days--so rush hour during our peak time winter and summer.”


He said that initially, Dakota’s plan included a transit center and provisions for Bus Rapid Transit. In the end, he said, it was called a “transit-ready project” but didn’t deliver on new infrastructure.


We asked him if he was ready to give up on the Boyer Tech Park model, which has only resulted in two buildings in a dozen years. Dickey said the Tech Park might still grow if the current Development Agreement relaxed some of the restrictions. He said the resulting Commercial might not be tech-oriented, but could lead to economic diversity and jobs.


Another topic is how well the plan reflects the recently-formulated Kimball Junction Master Plan.


Dickey said Kimball Junction is already Mixed Use. But he had a couple of questions when they approved the Master Plan.


“I’m concerned about the how. The vision’s great, but I’m not sure how we get there. And two, I think the worst-case scenario would be if we drop in all the housing on the west side of Highway 224 before we create the Town Center redevelopment on the east side. And there’s sort of a risk that putting in that housing first could even sort of freeze in place what we have on the other side of the road. So to me, it’s less about checking boxes with the Kimball Junction Master Plan—does it fit that?—but rather, is it the right time to deliver something like this in that spot.”


Finally, we asked if the Dakota plan was “urbanization” as some critics said. Dickey noted the viewpoint of its two supporters on the Planning Commission.


“They looked at the fact that this does deliver rental housing. And whether it’s deed-affordable or not, it’s a type of housing that’s in short supply today. And in looking at it, they had the idea of, “I don’t know how we can be quite sure” but that it would be a less-expensive housing type, and that young people, who we want to be able to move to Park City—we heard from them loud and clear during public hearings. And there was almost a little bit of a generational difference, where younger people who want to move to Park City showed a lot of support for the project, and weren’t really bothered at all by its characterization as urban.”

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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