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Former Summit County Development Official Breaks Down Wohali Controversy, Next Steps

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Wohali
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Don Sargent served as Summit County’s community development and planning director for more than five years. He now operates his own development consulting company and was hired by the city of Coalville this year to oversee the Wohali development application that was recently approved by the city council.

Sargent calls Wohali the most controversial project he’s ever been involved with. The more than 1,600 acres of land were annexed into Coalville, located on the west side of Interstate 80. The approved application includes 125 residential lots, 303 nightly rental units and a golf course. 

He believes the pushback from residents was the perceived change the development will affect on the community. The original application – with twice the density - had the developers offering an open community. The approved development will be gated.

The original application also contained a number of community benefits that went away when a citizen referendum was filed, taking the decision to a public vote. Instead, the developers came back with an application that met existing code and the city is now required to provide services that the first application would have shifted to the developers.

“Now, the city has responsibility to provide services, again in a timely fashion. But, with not as many community benefits associated with it. So, it was, it was an attempt to try to balance the impacts with the positive benefits. I think because we still do have the benefits probably mostly economic at this point, which is a doubling of the current city budget, if not more, over time as the development builds out. And again, the developers responsible for all impact of any of the services that they will be utilizing from the city.”

Sargent says he can see both the good and bad of the Wohali development.

“Development is needed in any town, if it's done right, and to support the general plan in the direction the town wants to go. In this case, given the location of this project property where it's sort of out of sight, out of mind in terms of any visual impact, and any traffic impact coming into the Main Street corridor, it has some merit that way to not have an impact right into the town center itself. But also have some positive benefit to the economic base of the community, which is desperately needed to help the city, maintain its current level of services that they're trying to offer.”

The next step will be the approval of the development agreement and master plan development. Sargent expects that could happen in the next several months and the developers will begin the infrastructure improvements later this spring.

Tough but fair, Leslie is the woman most of Park City wakes up with every weekday morning. Leslie has been at KPCW since 1990 and her years at KPCW have given her depth and insight, guiding her as she asks local leaders and citizens the questions on everyone’s minds during the live interviews of the Local News Hour.
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