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After A Firehose Of Public Comment, Snyderville Commission Ponders Highland Flats

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After a lengthy public hearing on the proposed Highland Flats project, with a big crowd attending on Zoom, the Snyderville Planning Commisison on Tuesday continued the item to their March 9th meeting, when they will discuss a decision.

Snyderville Chairman Ryan Dickey talked to KPCW about some of the major issues they will need to consider.

The applicants are proposing 410 rental units on property located between Highland Drive and the intersection of Interstate 80 and Highway 40.

It was late by the time public comments were finished.  Dickey explained why the Planning Commission decided to put off a decision.    

“I think we made an initial step to get into the discussion among the Commissioners about, sorta, thoughts on the project and the process to getting to a vote.   And, right, we’ve gotten a lot of comments since then of,  “Hey, we had a 4-5 hour public hearing.  How come you guys didn’t make a decision?”   I think it’s important for the community to understand, whether that decision woulda been an approval or a denial, it’s important for us to create a strong record of consideration and fact that supports a decision and have it on the record.  And that’s important for a lot of reasons.   There’s just good planning hygiene.  But certainly in support of an appeal of that decision, you wanna have a strong record of the reasons that the Commisisoners voted the way that they did.”

At their next meeting, he said the Planning Commission needs to decide if the development can get over some threshold questions under the General Plan.   For one, is Highland Flats compatible with the character of the nearby Highland Estates area.   Dickey said that’s a challenge.    

“The applicant’s asking for some changes to the General Plan, I think recognizing that, as the Highland Estates neighborhood plan is written, there’s some real challenges here.   The neighborhood objective for Highland Estates, right out of the General Plan, is to reinforce the use of detached, single-family residential structures, then that’s not what this project is.  So we recognize that they’re asking for changes.”

They also have to consider if the project meets Provision 2.3 of the General Plan—which says the county can’t approve an increase in density unless it provides a compelling, countervailing public benefit.

Dickey said they have to consider several factors, like whether the project is in the right location, and whether it can be served by transit.

He said once they pass the threshold questions, they look at issues such as impacts on wildlife and pollution.

The major question raised by the opponents was traffic impact.     Dickey said the presentation from the developers included some wrinkles.    Their number for current traffic volume, from the state, didn’t match the data from the County Engineer’s Office.       

“The county measures traffic one way.   UDOT measures it a different way.  I think making sure we’re using consistent numbers from consistent sources, making sure we’re looking at traffic—the traffic is different in either direction on the road.   We don’t want to just use a static count of the road.  And looking at the impact to intersections, beyond simply Highland Drive, there was a question about the back-up at the underpass, closer to Kimball Junction, so if you add so many additional cars, what happens when that backs up onto Highland Drive.  I just would like a traffic study to get into downstream effects.   And hopefully I would imagine that would be the applicants’ plan, and when we got to that point, and something that we’d ask for.”

Snyderville Planning Chairman Ryan Dickey    Ultimately, the vote by his group will be a recommendation to the Summit County Council.

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