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Highland Flats Gets First Reactions From Summit County Council

The proposed Highland Flats development was introduced Wednesday to the Summit County Council.

The project got a mixed response from Council Members.

The applicants are asking for a zone change, from Rural Residential to Community Commercial, for property located between the Highland Estates neighborhood and the southwest corner of Silver Creek Junction, where Interstate 80 and Highway 40 intersect.

Highland Flats would include 410 single-family and multi-family units.     About a third of those, 144 units, would be affordable-income housing, which means they will be affordable for people who earn 80 percent to 30 percent of the Area Median Income (or AMI).    Of the remaining units, 45 percent would be set at moderate income, and 20 percent at market rate.

During the work session Wednesday, Attorney Wade Budge gave this overview of the proposal for Council Members.      

“This is nicely spaced on 41 acres, significant emphasis on the affordable and attainable, working with the county on deed restricting, making sure the rental programs run as being represented, working through to make sure that open space is done in a way that’s beneficial.  And also, we’re integrating the project in terms of trails and making sure it flows well with what Basin Rec already has and maybe planning for the area.  And then lastly, we’ve already herein described how, by not pursuing the tax credits, we’re able to have greater restrictions, if you will—able to reach more targeted segments of the population.”

The development got a negative recommendation last March from the Snyderville Planning Commission, which ruled that the project didn’t comply with the Snyderville General Plan, the Basin’s Land Use Map, or the Neighborhood Plan for Highland Estates.

County Council Member Doug Clyde said in some respects the project is very attractive and seeking workforce housing is one of the county’s major goals.

But Clyde told KPCW that the project is in the wrong place, and he said that it isn’t “integrated,” as he sees it.       

“We do not want to be involved in just simply warehousing employees.    Our purpose in trying to incorporate affordable housing into our communities is to make sure that the people who work there are an integral part of our community.  This ranges, everything from lift operators to fire personnel and members of the police force and a whole bunch of other essential services.  To make our county as much of a complete community as possible, we have decided that these functions need to be integrated.  And that means simply that when you go into a development, it’s not immediately clear that this is where the affordable housing is.”

He also said the applicants haven’t made the case at this time that it’s compatible with single-family residences in Highland Estates.     Glenn Wright said that’s a major issue for him also, and he’s “on the fence” about the development.

Council Member Malena Stevens said she’s concerned about traffic impacts on Highland Drive, which is an important road link to both Highway 40 and Highway 224.       

“I have a lot of concerns with that, and just with the placement of this project in general.   It’s not an area that we as a county obviously have looked at for additional potential density, whether commercial or with our housing and our affordable housing needs.”

Wrapping up the discussion, Budge said they will take the Council comments under consideration.     

“And we’re somewhat intrepid, so we may come back again.  But we seriously are gonna take into account all the comments.   The integration one has really spurred some thoughts that we need to go and consult with our experts about.”

Attorney Wade Budge., who added that they’re not throwing in the towel yet.

Council Chairman Wright said he thinks they’ve given some guidance to the applicants but didn’t indicate if they will hold another work session in the near future, or if Highland Flats moves to a public hearing.

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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