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Summit County Council OKs Resolution For $50 Million Open Space Bond

Wasatch Open Space Bonds .org

The Summit County Council Wednesday approved a resolution to place an open space bond of up to $50 million on the November ballot.

Public hearings will be held in the fall, and council members talked about making sure that residents in both eastern and western Summit County have a chance to provide input.  

The resolution includes ballot language which says that a bond would be paid off over 26 years.    The estimated annual cost would be $40 on a residence with a value of $715,000.

The resolution had to be approved by the council so it could be sent to the Lieutenant Governor’s office by Thursday.

Council members have said in recent weeks that having funds from a land conservation bond ready to deploy quickly will be a useful tool as portions of the county are experiencing increasing development pressure.    

A public hearing on the bond will be held September 22nd, at 6 p.m., at the Ledges Event Center in Coalville.    Deputy County Attorney Dave Thomas said that will meet the requirements of state statutes.

But Council Member Roger Armstrong said the council should also schedule a hearing in the Snyderville Basin.      

“This is unusual because normally when we do these open space bonds in the past, they’ve been limited to the Snyderville Basin.  So the September public hearing at Ledges is obviously critical because it’s gonna be the first time folks on the east side have seen something like this.   And they need to express their concerns and hear our explanations for why.  I’m positive there’s gonna be interest in the Basin and, thinking that having it 30 miles

away probably tamps down some of that interest.”  

Thomas said a second hearing can certainly be scheduled.    He suggested that could occur in October.

County Clerk Eve Furse said that the final ballot language has to go to the printer by mid-September, so a firm up or down from the council has to come by August 30th.

Council members said they don’t have to spend $50 million.     That’s the maximum set under the general obligation bond.

Council Member Malena Stevens said they could change their mind about the whole bond.     

“We could remove it.  It will still show on the ballot but we would not be taking that bond at that point.”

KPCW also asked whether the county will succeed in putting forward this proposal when the Park City School District just announced plans for a $79 million bond on this fall’s ballot.   

Stevens replied that with the two bonds together, the annual cost for a house is likely less than $200, depending on house value.

She said the county’s bond is a response to desires of the community.    

“And so we felt that, with what the community was telling us about wanting to direct the growth to specific areas and to preserve specific areas, that we needed to be more aggressive in that plan.  And with the way real estate and land is going right now, it’s likely that a large price tag will be necessary in order to fulfill that commission by the community.”

On Wednesday, Roger Armstrong said the proposed bond is important for the East Side.       

“It’s not just preserving land.   It’s also guiding growth, and being able to shape where that growth happens.  And I think that for that reason having this, particularly as the east side starts to expand, is really important.  And I think we’re hearing more demand from the east side for tools for trails and for open space and the need for that.”

Summit County Council Member Roger Armstrong.

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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