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Debate Rages Over Trailer On Samak Lot

Controversy has flared up over a request to develop a small parcel in the Samak Hills Subdivision east of Kamas.    It brought a lot of comment  Thursday night  to a hearing before the East Side Planning Commisison.

The applicants say they want to set up a trailer and a support building for their personal use.    But critics say it could become commercial, and in any event doesn’t belong in a residential area.

The East Side Commission didn’t come to a recommendation about the project, titled the Sheffield Campground, which is seeking a Low Impact Permit.  That type of approval is granted by the Community Development Director, but at his discretion, can be referred to the Planning Commission if enough public concerns are raised.

Thursday night’s public hearing drew about 25 speakers.   A majority were opponents or had concerns.    But Kody and Wendy Sheffield also had relatives or friends speak up in favor of the project.

The Sheffields also protested that it’s a misnomer to call the proposal a campground, because they’re not planning a business use.   Kody said the application for  a Low Impact Permit wasn’t because they wanted a commercial project.      

“I want to be very clear.   The reason for the Permit is because the people in the area who turned us into the county, for not having the proper permits forced us to get the Permit, to apply for the Permit.  We do not want a campground permit.   I don’t know how many times I have to tell you this.   We do not want the campground permit.  We want to use this property as our own property, as our personal property for our family, for our kids, for our friends.  There are plenty of properties in the area, that are not my properties, that have yurts, that are Air bnb.   That is not me.”

The staff report said the applicants were requesting five RV or Camper water hook-ups on the parcel of a little over half-an-acre.

But the Sheffields said they have reduced that to three hook-ups, including uses for their building and their trailer.

Wendy Sheffield said several of the issues brought up by critics should instead be handled by a Homeowners Association.       

“This community has had this type of use for decades.   A lot of the people that are moving in that now have concerns have come in and they’re wanting to change what was initially charming to them, that you didn’t have to look like Park City, you didn’t have to look like a regular neighborhood.  You could have your own different space.  They’re trying to generalize the people that have camping trailers, and somehow kind of put them into a corner like they’re not meeting health and safety requirements.   The vast majority of the people I know up there are all in compliance.   They all have beautifully-manicured landscapes.”

But among the critical comments, Denise Kesler said  that she doesn’t want a campground, public or private, and it’s mind-boggling that the county would approve this.        

“I cannot fathom that trailers are allowed within a residential subdivision.   Lived here for 30 years.   The abuse of land has occurred exponentially over the course of, I can easily say, ten years worth of people buying land, dropping trailers, not having proper permits.   I think that it would be very negligent of Planning and Zoning Board to approve such a permit right now, without a clear and concise understanding of the codes and of, maybe amending codes that need to be brought up to current date right now.”

And Gwen Parkinson questioned Kody Sheffield’s claim that the development is a personal use.        

“And at one time, I did hear him say.   And he can argue it, but however, he did say at one time he was thinking about putting some RVs there, or trailers to rent out.   And that’s where I think a bunch of people are getting their concerns in, that they don’t want it rented out.   If he wants to rent one…. that’s fine, I guess, but not five of them, because we’re adjacent.   We don’t know what kind of riff-raff is going to go on.   We don’t know these people.  Our property isn’t insured by him.   What if their people come in and they’re visitors and they trespass on our property, and some damage happens on our property.   Therefore, we’re responsible for it, not Kody.”

Finally, Don Green also supported the Sheffields, but said he also understands why opponents are concerned about their property values.

In the end, he deplored the divisiveness in the Samak Hills community.      

“I’m really disappointed in all of us, because there’s so much anger.   And there seems to be some hatred going on.  My wife and I named our property Green Haven, because it’s our haven, it’s our safe place.  Doesn’t feel like that anymore.  It feels pretty ugly up there now.   People go by, don’t wave, don’t talk.   It’s become very unfriendly.  That’s not the Utah way.   The Utah way is we wave, we talk, we help each other.”

The next step for the East Side Commission is to have a discussion in January.   They will talk about some amendments to the East Side Code that have been previously drafted to clarify issues about commercial versus private campgrounds and other items.

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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