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Summit County Council Takes Public Input on Accessory Regulations' Effect on Silver Creek

The proposed amendments to the Snyderville Code governing accessory buildings will return to the Summit County Council in the near future. 

The council didn’t make a decision at its meeting last week on Wednesday, March 31, and asked staff for further information. The hearing brought out opinions on both sides about whether the changes would harm the equestrian character of Silver Creek.

The proposed code changes create two categories of buildings. A minor accesory building would be allowed up to 2,000 square feet, with a side structure up to 400 square feet. A major accessory structure would be allowed on a parcel of five acres or more. The maximum size there would be 12,500 square feet.

The public hearing brought out comments from about a dozen residents in the Silver Creek area north of Interstate 80.

Eileen Galoostian said code changes that limit the number of accessory buildings would be the start of eradicating the kind of ranches that horses need.

“They require proper housing and care, including regular and proper exercise, clean feed and hay and a safe environment,” she said. “Accessory buildings provide the ability to properly care for horses. You want to separate a hay barn from a stable because it drastically reduces the risk of killing horses from fire. Indoor arenas allow for exercise and the ability to move year-round in inclement weather like the winter. There’s nowhere for us to go. We don’t have a public place in Park City, so we’re building our own structures.”

She said they also need a separate building for equipment and tools, to avoid causing accidents for animals and people; another space for a climate-controlled tack room; and a separate feed room where horses can’t get into the supply.

But another resident, Rick Angell, said that large accessory buildings are proliferating too much. Angell said the code changes won’t clash with the equestrian values of Silver Creek.

“The very large buildings that we’re seeing in many cases aren’t even being used for equestrian uses,” he said. “They’re being built as soccer stadiums, or equestrian venues that have been converted to hockey arenas. We have them coming in at a pace that is going to fundamentally change the character of not just Silver Creek or Old Ranch Road, but the entire Snyderville Basin. When you’re on a hillside, looking out across the Basin, people were invariably gonna see more rooftops, more homes and more accessory buildings. But if they’re all at this 15,000-square-foot sizes, it’s gonna start to look a lot more like a warehouse district than it is a mountain community.”

Pete Olson said he’s another resident who doesn’t support the code changes. He said it’s not about supporting big horse arenas.

“I think that when you own a 10-acre property, you should be able to have your man-shed, your she-shed, your horse-shed, your garden-shed,” he said. “You should have as many sheds as you wanna have. In response to Rick Angell’s comment about some of these large riding arenas then turning into hockey arenas—that’s not a problem of changing the Development Code, that’s a problem of enforcement.”

After the comments, councilor Doug Clyde assured residents that the council isn’t against the equestrian character of Silver Creek.

“I don’t think there is a bone in our collective body that is contrary to equestrian use,” he said. “I think we want as much equestrian use as we can get. What we don’t want is people building covert commercial uses and building buildings that overwhelm the property and overwhelm their neighbors.”

Councilor Chris Robinson put forward the idea of not taking action at this time on the code changes. He said it’s only been three weeks since they enacted a six-month temporary moratorium on new accessory buildings. He said they don’t have to rush to a decision.

Robinson said he’s only heard anecdotal reports about a problem. He asked the planning staff to research and return with the most egregious examples of current accessory buildings.

Robinson also was concerned that the largest size for a major accessory building would be 12,500 square feet. He told KPCW that could affect just a small portion of a parcel.

“So on a five-acre parcel, 12,500 square feet is 5.6% of the area,” he said. “And if you had a ten-acre parcel, it’d only be 3% of the area. I think there are other ways to deal with some of that, by set-backs and other conditions, rather than say if you have a ten-acre parcel, you can only use three percent of it.”

Robinson said that while the public hearing on March 31, was closed, he hopes the Summit County Council will take additional comment from residents.

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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