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Storage Facility Near Kamas Approved In Split Vote From Summit County Council

A much-debated storage shed business proposed for Highway 248 entering the Kamas Valley was approved Wednesday by a 3-2 vote of the Summit County Council.   

The proposed Mountainside Storage business was approved by County Council Members Chris Robinson, Malena Stevens and Glenn Wright.    Opposing votes were cast by Roger Armstrong and Doug Clyde.

The vote gave applicant Dan Meyer a zoning change from agricultural to commercial, along with a Master Planned Development approval.  He will next seek a Conditional Use Permit from the East Side Planning Commission.

His parcel is a little over 13 acres, and the project would have three phases, including nearly 750 storage units, a main office, and four contractors’ offices.

During a KPCW interview, Chris Robinson explained why he thought the location was an appropriate for the business.

“The site is basically depressed in a hole.  It’s next to a UDOT roadshed.  It has good access off 248.  It’s been well-designed to make it so that it’s not intrusive into the viewshed.  The storage side is a very low-intensity usage, meaning that there won’t be lines of cars queuing up to get in there.   You look around at all the other storage projects and you seldom see many people in there.   It’s not down in the meadows or anywhere where it’s got critical lands.  It’s not really suited for housing.   I don’t believe it’d be a good place to live.”

Council Chairman Glenn Wright said on Wednesday he agreed with an opponent, Doug Clyde, that the proposal is spot zoning.   But Wright said he was okay with that, because more of it will be coming to the Highway 248 corridor.   He said dramatic changes are ahead for the Eastern county.

“We have a dearth of commercial zoning in eastern Summit County.   The economy of the eastern county is going to have to change.   We’re in the middle of a tremendous drought.   Agriculture’s going to get less and less important in the eastern county.  Water’s going to be used for other reasons.  We’re probably gonna see a lot of land sold off for housing development.  We’ve talked about the need to concentrate development and preserve open land.”

Wright said he doesn’t know if the storage sheds are the best possible use, but the plan is reasonable.

Council Member Malena Stevens said a visit to the site helped convince her.    And she said the project’s landscaping, architecture and massing were well done.

Meanwhile, Council Member Doug Clyde has been the most fervent opponent of the project.      

“This is an example of stuffing a square peg in a round hole.   You’ve got one of two choices.   You can go back and get a round peg and put it in a hole.    Or you can take a really big hammer and force that square peg into the round hole.  And that’s what we’ve done.”

Clyde said the claim that it will be a low-intensity use is a fantasy.     He contended that nothing in the project’s approval will limit retail sales activity.     

“We wander into these things like babes in the woods.  And we put up these sort of development agreements that have incredibly ambiguous language about retail sales.  And then we wonder five years later why everything goes to hell in a handbasket.”

And Roger Armstrong said county officials put in a lot of work in recent years revising the East Side General Plan and Code, and during that time, they promised East Side mayors they would push density toward the cities.

But he said this approval sets up a commercial beachhead outside of Kamas.      

“And we’re doing this on an ala carte basis, for a reason that I don’t understand.  And I appreciate your development.   This is not to denigrate what you’ve proposed.   Because the drawings look good.  You’ve been thoughtful about how you want to put it together, where you want to put it.  And I find no fault with any of that.   I can’t say you didn’t do this, you didn’t do that.  I just think it’s not the right way to do this.   I think that this is better suited within the Kamas city limits, the Francis city limits, so that they get some of that revenue, and not stuck in the middle of pastureland at the entrance of the valley.  We’ve got the roadshed there, as you guys have pointed out.   So in terms of impacts, I have no dispute with anything you’ve articulated in terms of impacts.  It’s just wrong there.”

County Council Member Roger Armstrong.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covers Summit County meetings and issues. KPCW snagged him from The Park Record in the '80s, and he's been on air and covering the entire county ever since. He produces the Week In Review podcast, as well a heads the Friday Film Review team.